Sadly, mass shootings are ingrained in the American cultural landscape

Opinion: In countries like Great Britain and Australia, mass shootings resulted in stricter gun laws, directly resulting in less gun violence. Meanwhile, more than 30 percent of Americans own at least one firearm

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In the immediate aftermath of two more gun-related tragedies in the US — resulting in a total of 29 deaths (including 19 children) and several injuries — I turned to my archives to review an op-ed I wrote in 2012, just days away. after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootout. In that incident, the 20-year-old gunman left 26 dead, including 20 victims aged six or seven.

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At the time, as a father of a young daughter and an elected official, I complained about politicians in the state not being motivated to respond appropriately because of “national polls … of less than 50 percent of Americans who … support restrictions on their gun rights.” .”

It’s now nearly a decade later, and despite mass shootings that are now commonplace in Americans’ everyday lives, public opinion doesn’t seem to be moving on gun control. According to a Gallup poll earlier this year, only 37 percent of Americans are “dissatisfied” with gun laws and in favor of tougher measures.

I use the term “everyday” because of the extreme outlier that the US is when it comes to public shootings that kill four or more people. Between 1998 and 2019, there were as many as 101 such events south of the 49th parallel. The country in second place in the same period is France, with eight. In fact, the combined number of similar incidents in the next 17 countries on the list doesn’t even come close to half the total in the US.

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Even polls showing that 89 percent of Americans favor universal background checks for gun purchases don’t register with the same unequivocal support at the ballot box. Two 2016 proposals to expand background checks in Nevada and Maine (the former with an ethnically diverse population and the latter with a predominantly white population) barely made it to one percent and failed by 3.6 percent, respectively. Both jurisdictions, which are considered political swing states, resulted in meager victories for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in 2020.

There is little political impetus for Republican holdouts or even Democratic contenders in combat races to change course against a backdrop of such lukewarm public support for change.

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Combined with undue influence over gun lobby campaign funding, ongoing legislative blockade through Senate filibustering that offers veto power to small rural states, and the most divisive political climate in American history, the US is little more than an eternal wasteland for gun violence.

The 2022 context for this sad state of affairs is truly inexplicable: Before Tuesday’s massacre, there were at least 39 other shootings at primary schools, colleges and universities in 2022. We’re not even halfway through the calendar year yet.

From our vantage point here in Canada, the thought of living in the midst of this kind of carnage is as confusing as it is infuriating. This is indeed the prevailing reaction from all over the world. In countries such as Britain and Australia, mass shootings resulted in stricter firearms laws, directly resulting in less gun violence in subsequent years.

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Meanwhile, 30 percent of Americans own at least one firearm, access to guns in the U.S. (including semi-automatic rifles legally purchased by the Texas shooter) often requires no background check due to lax enforcement and large regulatory loopholes, and U.S. gun homicides per 100,000 people come in at just under four (unlike every other country in the world that has far less than one).

The inevitable seascape of the land that comes after an incident like the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, is the constant in the gun control debate, which has raged for decades. In other words, this week’s national speech by President Biden about standing up to the gun lobby in the wake of such a tragedy amounts to little more than political theater. I don’t doubt the sincerity of his feelings. I do understand, however, that there is no political will and courage in the face of such public ambivalence.

Mass murders are a daily reality in the US, a phenomenon that Americans seem willing to accept.

Kash Heed spent 32 years in the police force before becoming Solicitor General of BC. He now works as a public safety and security consultant.


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