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Most Americans Want Stronger Gun Safety Laws

poll released Wednesday by The Economist/YouGov found massive support in America for a number of provisions to keep people safe from gun violence.

The results run contrary to the positions of many Republicans, as well as their allies in the NRA, who oppose virtually all gun safety legislation.

Most Americans told the pollsters they want Congress to act to reduce gun violence. Sixty-four percent said that the legislature should pass such measures, as Democrats have done in the House.

Fifty-seven percent said they believe that the Senate should come back from its summer recess to work on gun issues. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected such requests and derided calls for gun reform as merely “theatrics.”

On individual gun issues, Americans showed massive support for a host of provisions:

  • 78 percent support enhanced background checks, including for gun show purchases;
  • 59 percent of those asked said they support a ban on semi-automatic weapons;
  • 65 percent support a ban on high-capacity gun magazines;
  • 73 percent support a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases;
  • 66 percent support requiring gun owners to register their weapons;
  • 52 percent support a limit on the number of handguns a person can own;
  • 55 percent back requiring a police permit before buying a gun; and
  • 51 percent support allowing the Centers for Disease Control to do research on gun violence.

Democrats have backed nearly all of the issues that received such strong support. The NRA and their allies within the Republican Party have consistently blockaded the issues, despite sustained public support.

After Democrats took over the House after the 2018 elections, they passed H.R. 8, which strengthened background checks. McConnell has not allowed the measure to be voted on in the Senate, despite support from hundreds of mayors and police chiefs.

Most of the Democratic candidates running for the 2020 presidential nomination have expressed support for some sort of a ban on assault weapons, and they all back enhanced background checks.

After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, many Republicans, including Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, laid the blame for the shootings on violent video games with no evidence.

Other key Republican figures echoed the atmosphere of inaction in the days following the attacks.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) flatly stated after the shootings he had no interest in gun violence prevention.

“I don’t support gun control,” Gardner said, despite the coast-to-coast public outcry that has followed the shootings.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) chose to blame “mental health” for the shootings, but experts have repeatedly made clear that doing so is without merit.

Other nations have mental health issues and video games, but they do not have the problems with mass shootings that are so prevalent in America.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Danziger: All That You Can Be

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

In America, Just Another Normal Mass Shooting — And The Usual Political Indifference

This, apparently, is “normal” in the United States: Earlier this week, in the small town of Benton, Kentucky, a high school sophomore walked onto his campus and started shooting, wounding several schoolmates and killing two — Bailey Nicole Holt, who died at the scene, and Preston Ryan Cope, who died after he was transported to a hospital. Americans barely noticed.

It was the 11th school shooting of this year (and this month), according to the New York Times. (Some were suicides; some resulted in no injuries.) As Katherine W. Schweit, a former FBI official and an expert on school shootings, put it: “We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings.”

There is no other country on the planet that tolerates gun violence as we do. We have about 5 percent of the world’s population, but we account for 31 percent of the world’s mass shootings. Between 1966 and 2012, there were 90 mass shootings in the United States, according to University of Alabama professor Adam Lankford, who has published a study about shootings that kill four or more victims. We also rank No. 1 in gun ownership; in a nation of 317 million people, there are about 357 million guns. As Lankford notes, there is a connection between that staggering number of guns and the number of people who die as a result of gun violence.

“For decades, people have wondered if the dark side of American exceptionalism is a cultural propensity for violence,” he wrote, “and in recent years, perhaps no form of violence is seen as more uniquely American than public mass shootings.”

His study did not include the October 2017 horror in Las Vegas, where gunman Stephen Paddock fired into a crowd of unsuspecting concertgoers, killing 58 and injuring countless others. These atrocities, if they are awful enough, capture our attention for a week or so. The Benton shooting hardly induced a raised eyebrow. Such is our capacity for denial, for resignation, for apathy.

Polls show that most Americans favor stricter gun laws, but Congress has failed to pass any. The gun lobby holds Congress hostage, refusing to sanction even the mildest restrictions. The National Rifle Association believes that any man, woman or child should be able to buy his or her own shoulder-fired grenade launcher, and the American public doesn’t care enough to fight against that nonsense. If the 2012 massacre of babies at Sandy Hook Elementary School didn’t change us, what will?

Some blame our renowned founding document, the U.S. Constitution, which includes a Second Amendment that explicitly states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” But you cannot read that sentence and ignore its opening clause, which sets its context.

The amendment was meant to protect a citizens’ militia, such as the National Guard, not individuals. In recent years, federal courts have grossly distorted its meaning. In prior generations, jurists agreed that it did not protect the right of individuals to own any weapon they wanted.

Indeed, much about gun culture has changed since my childhood. I grew up in the Deep South — rural Alabama — with a father who loved hunting and who owned firearms. He was typical of his time and place; he hunted with brothers, brothers-in-law, and friends. But my father was strict about gun safety, and he would not have recognized a culture that allows worshippers strapped with holsters to take their guns into church. An educator, he would have been aghast at a gun lobby that insists that teachers should be able to carry their guns into the classroom.

Some blame our frontier heritage for our fondness for firearms. Yet, Australia has a similar frontier heritage — cowboys, ranches, endless prairies — and that nation got a grip on gun violence. After a mass shooting in 1996 that left 35 people dead, Australia’s then-prime minister, John Howard, pushed through a set of strict gun laws and instituted a gun buyback program. In the years that followed, gun deaths plummeted.

We seem incapable of that sort of rational thinking. We are caught up in a uniquely American form of madness, suffering a sort of paralysis that has normalized the unthinkable.