'Cultural Problem' of Gun Violence: US Lawmakers Propose Reforms to Address Mass Shootings

© AFP 2023 / CHIP SOMODEVILLAGun control advocacy groups rally with Democratic members of Congress outside the U.S. Capitol on May 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Gun control advocacy groups rally with Democratic members of Congress outside the U.S. Capitol on May 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.05.2022
So far during 2022, more than 200 mass shootings, of which 27 occurred at schools, have rattled the United States. Every tragedy reignites the long-standing debate between those demanding stricter controls and people who insist that restrictions violate their constitutional rights.
The gruesome school shooting in Uvalde, Texas left 19 children and two school employees dead after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos stormed into Robb Elementary School armed with a gun. Hot on the heels of another deadly incident in Buffalo that claimed 10 lives, the Uvalde shooting prompted many lawmakers from both sides of the political scene to discuss ways to address the problem.
Former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, told NBC that "violence is a cultural problem that this country must face", before calling for "common sense" solutions in gun regulation.
There is some tentative optimism for a possible compromise on the issue between the two main parties after a bipartisan group of lawmakers consisting of five Democrats and four Republicans assembled on Capitol Hill on Thursday. More Republican lawmakers, while remaining strong supporters of Second Amendment rights, also expressed readiness to engage in talks regarding possible reforms.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy - the host of the Thursday assembly - acknowledged that any decisions, if made, will not be as far-reaching as a ban on assault weapons or a universal background check system due to the conservatives’ opposition to such measures. Still, he believes lawmakers can reach a consensus on reforms like red flag laws, expansion of the background check system, and more funding for mental health systems and school security.
Red flag statutes allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people who are considered dangerous to themselves or to the society. Certain GOP members seem willing to consider such laws.
Senate Republicans' campaign arm head Rick Scott told Axios he was "OK” with supporting a red flag law at the federal level, but added that generally, such laws should be up to the state governments. Currently, red flag statutes are applied in 19 states, including Republican-controlled Indiana and Florida.
"I am so willing to bend over backward to find a compromise. … I need a vote that just shows progress," said Murphy regarding any potential deal with the Republicans on the issue and when addressing GOP reluctance to go for far-reaching gun control measures. "I'm perfectly willing to let the good prevail over the perfect."
Despite the looming possibility of a bipartisan agreement, many Republicans continue to oppose gun control proposals that are being demanded by those outraged by yet another school shooting. Among those arguing that gun restrictions would be in violation of the Second Amendment is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
“The elites who dominate our culture tell us that firearms lie at the root of the problem,” Cruz said. “It’s far easier to slander one’s political adversaries and to demand that responsible citizens forfeit their constitutional rights than it is to examine the cultural sickness, giving birth to unspeakable acts of evil.”
GOP Representative Lauren Boebert also slammed calls to impose gun restrictions, saying that when the US was weathering the aftermath of the Twin Towers tragedy "we didn't ban planes" but rather "secured the cockpits".
The Uvalde shooting has US citizens decrying the government's failure to address gun violence, with people protesting on the streets and calling for more action instead of cliche "thoughts-and-prayers" statements. Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott has assured the public that he expects new laws to follow the Uvalde tragedy, pledging to introduce laws "in multiple different subject areas."
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