September 30, 2023

with a hail of gun violence

Memories and candles are seen at a memorial to Dymir Stanton, 29, a victim of a fatal shooting, Thursday, July 6, 2023, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Memories and candles are seen at a memorial to a victim of a deadly July 3 shooting in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

For most Americans, the numbers in the news during the July 4 holiday season were more than depressing: 23 killed and 130 injured, including children and teens, in 23 mass shootings from Saturday through early Wednesday, according to the nonprofit organization. Gun Violence Archives.

That is American exceptionalism at its worst. No other developed country comes close to the United States in victims and costs of gun violence.

Still other Americans, it turns out, were focused on other numbers — and they celebrated! Why? Because June was the 47th consecutive month in which more than a million firearms were sold in a country that already has more guns than people.

“What better way to celebrate America’s birthday than by exercising one of its most cherished and fundamental freedoms?” Dan Zimmerman of the pro-gun blog The Truth About Guns wrote on the Fourth. “That’s exactly what the American public did in June and continues to do, month after month.”

Actual gun sales are likely even higher. The estimate of more than 1 million comes from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade organization, based on data from the loophole federal background checks database. “These numbers counter the demands of gun control politicians to give up rights,” Zimmerman approvingly quoted another gun lawyer. “Americans choose differently.”

In fact, Americans do not choose differently: Eight out of 10 registered voters, including most Republicans, want criminal background and mental health checks for all gun buyers; a minimum age of 21 and a 30-day waiting period for purchasing firearms; and gun ownership bans for people considered a danger to themselves or others. And six in 10 voters, including a third of Republicans, support a ban on assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons. Those were the findings of a recent Fox News pollwhich was consistent with countless other national polls over time.

The discrepancy between the overwhelming support for commonsense gun restrictions – Americans rarely agree on anything with such margins – and the inability to enact them nationwide is one of the strongest evidences of the country’s anti-democratic drift, driven by a radicalized Republican Party.

Amid the holiday carnage, President Biden again called for gun control, powerless words that are now as predictable as the next hail of bullets. Also predictable: the deliberate “thoughts and prayers” helplessness of the MAGA Republicans who run the house, many of them sport miniature AR-15 pins and under the spell of gun-nut groups and like-minded people minority of their voters.

Read more: Calmes: Big Lie No. 2 – Congress has done everything it could with guns

Democrats barely control the Senate, but they are just as deaf to Biden’s pleas. Aside from last year’s bipartisan move to modestly tighten gun restrictions, the party has been anxious to push through gun regulation since losing both chambers of Congress in a gun lobby-driven backlash against the assault weapons ban passed in 1994. was hired. They have no intention of pressing the issue when their majority is at stake in next year’s election. Senate Democrats are trying to keep their seats in the red states of Montana, West Virginia and Ohio, as well as the gun-friendly swing states of Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The paralysis at the federal level creates a patchwork of state gun laws. Claims Republican control is busy obliterating gun regulations: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently built his Republican presidential platform and recently defended an insane law that would allow people to carry concealed guns without a license in a state that has few of the nation’s worst gun homicides. The states controlled by the Democrats have introduced some new restrictions, including assault weapon prohibitions, which can be circumvented by crossing state lines. And for those with a divided government, nothing is happening despite public support for more restrictions.

And now political cowards in both parties have the excuse that the Republican Supreme Court has made it much harder for gun control to pass constitutional scrutiny. In recent years Bruen decision ruled that judges should no longer have to weigh the public interest when considering whether gun restrictions designed to make communities safer are constitutional. Instead, judges should look to the country’s “historic tradition of gun regulation,” which, in fact, it is less hostile to gun control than the conservative judges claimed.

Like the court ruling that overturned the right to abortion, the gun decision led political and legal chaos. And there’s more to come. A three-judge panel of the far-right U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit recently quoted Bruen in knock down a federal law that prohibits people with a domestic violence record from owning firearms.

Read more: Bride’s father, teenager who tried to save his friend: Philadelphia shooting victims

On the last day of June — that 47th consecutive month of more than a million gun sales — the Supreme Court announced that in its next term it would decide whether states can keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. The stakes couldn’t be higher: About half of the women killed by guns in this country are victims of domestic violence. But gun control advocates and victims of abuse aren’t optimistic about where the court will go: Public safety no longer trumps the expanded reading of the Second Amendment.

I was hesitant at first to write about gun politics again as I was dealing with this issue in March after a school shooting in Nashville. The nation is hardened, I told myself.

But this cannot be written off as normal. These numbers are not just numbers. They are people.


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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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