Because of the pandemic and stay-at-home guidelines, we haven’t had to think about mass shootings in awhile. Now that the vaccination program is going strong in the U.S., and the country is opening up, like clockwork, we’re seeing mass shooting after mass shooting. Yesterday, a man with an AR-15 killed 10 people in a grocery store in Colorado. During the weekend of March 14th, four people were killed and at least 34 others hurt in shootings across Chicago. Last week, a man with an AR-15 killed 8 people in Atlanta — he bought the gun earlier that day. The supermarket shooting was the seventh mass killing so far this year.
I saw zero headlines about the Chicago killings. Just another week in America. I fear we’ve all watched gun violence become normalized, right before our eyes.
Where are you at on this issue? Are you still passionately fighting for gun control? Are you still passionately fighting against gun control? Are you exhausted by the gun debate? Have you given up hope of ever getting things resolved?
As you already know if you’ve been reading here for awhile, I grew up in a gun-loving community and have always tried to be respectful of gun rights. Yes I wanted to see real and practical gun reforms, but I also wanted the people I love to be able to keep their guns. In 2018 my viewpoint changed.
I think it was reading the statistics about gun suicides that finally made me realize I can no longer favor the gun rights of my childhood friends over the 100 lives that are lost every day in this country (100 EVERY SINGLE DAY!) due to gun violence.
These days, I would welcome a gun ban. I realize not everyone agrees with me.
Here is some of what I’ve read and bookmarked about gun violence that continues to inform my views:
-Is gun control a constitutional question for you? Author and journalist David Kirby writes: “Rights have limits, including gun ownership. Same with free speech. The 1st Amendment doesn’t protect obscenity, child pornography, incitement to violence, personal threats, defamation, perjury, and false advertising. Why can’t people accept limits for the 2nd?“
-Looking for commonalities among mass shooters? Forget mental illness and video games. The New York Times reports that it turns out violence against women is frequently part of their histories, and it’s not talked about enough.
-“Nearly 1 million women in the US alive today have been shot, or shot at, by an intimate partner.” You want to own a weapon? How about you have to submit to a psychiatric evaluation, then provide a letter (that you can’t see or read) from a past or present romantic partner, since they’re the people most at risk from your gun.
-Have you considered whether your gun views are affected by your race or religious views? This Muslim man asked: If every non-white Muslim man in the U.S. strolled around running errands while carrying assault rifles, would you be less inclined to support open carry?
-Related to that, did you know Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, made open carry illegal in the state because members of the Black Panther organization were exercising their open-carry rights and it made white politicians uncomfortable?
-Are you anti-gun control? If yes, you are in the minority. There is broad bipartisan support among people in America who want Congressional action on specific gun policies. 89 percent of Americans, say Congress should pass more funding to screen and treat people with mental illness who are trying to purchase guns legally. Eighty-three percent of Americans said background checks should be required if someone wants to buy a gun at a gun show or through a private sale. 72 percent of Americans supported the idea of a national “red flag” law, which allows police to seize a person’s gun after a judge decides that individual poses a threat to themselves or others. Similarly, 72 percent of U.S. adults said a person should be required to obtain a license before buying a gun.
-Did you know that 110 bills containing the word “gun” have been introduced since this Congress convened in January. (Most of the 110 are directly related to the gun debate, though a few recognize historical events or deal with foreign countries.) Click to read what those bills are about.
-Of the 40 deadliest U.S. mass shootings since 1949 (deadliest, meaning 8 or more people killed):
-7 occurred in the 10 years before US enacted assault weapons ban
-2 occurred in the 10 years assault weapons ban was in effect
-27 have occurred in the 17 years since since the GOP blocked efforts to extend the assault weapons ban.
Another way of parsing this data:
-7 of the 40 deadliest mass shootings since 1949 occurred in 10 years before 1994 assault weapons ban
–2 occurred in 10 years the ban was in effect
-13 occurred in the first 10 years after ban expired
-15 occurred in the last 7 years
The stats above refer to the “deadliest” mass shootings, with 8 or more people killed. Mass shootings are defined by 4 or more people being killed. Here is a list of recent mass shootings in the U.S..
-It’s good to remember that gun control wasn’t always a partisan issue. For a reference on how radical today’s GOP has become on guns, here is some context. In 1999, thirty-one Senate Republicans voted in favor of mandating background checks at gun shows. And in 1994, forty-two House Republicans voted for President Bill Clinton’s crime bill, which included a ban on assault weapons.
-It’s also worth remembering that owning an assault rifle a few decades ago would have been seen as crazy. It was not a part of mainstream gun culture. Today’s current gun culture is a problem.
-Don’t forget: The Founders never intended to create an unregulated individual right to a gun. This article describes how recent and artificial the fundamentalist interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is.
-Many Americans can buy a gun in less than an hour. In some countries, the process takes months. Here’s what the gun buying process looks like in 16 different countries.
-There are a lot of people who try to turn the conversation toward mental health whenever gun violence comes up. I’m someone who deals with mental health issues on a daily basis, and I certainly think paying attention to mental health is important. But please know: in the context of gun violence prevention, bringing up mental health is a distraction strategy and is not helpful.
Why? Because 19 out of 20 murderers have no mental illness diagnosis. Because 4 out of 5 mass shooters have no mental illness diagnosis, and half showed no signs of a prior, undiagnosed illness. Because there is no correlation between mental illness and the prevalence of mass shootings in the U.S. relative to other countries.
Framing this as just a mental illness problem or mainly as mental illness problem is a gun industry trope.
-This is a super interesting thread about research into Columbine. The temptation to focus on mental health and video games when there’s a mass-shooting is so strong — but not actually helpful. On the other hand, the correlation with white supremacy is undeniable, but that seems to get ignored or pushed to the side (just like the misogyny connection gets pushed to the side).
That completes my list for now. I’m curious to know if you’re familiar with any of these viewpoints, or if they are news to you. Are your views on guns set at this point, or do you feel your views could change? Or perhaps like me, you’ve already seen your views on gun control change over the last several years.
Where do you land these days? What would you like to see happen?
P.S. — I’ve written many pieces on gun violence. Here are links to 4, in case you’d like to read them:
–Why I think a gun ban is inevitable.
–A conversation with God about guns.
–Let’s talk about suicide statistics.
–What does protecting your family look like to you?