Taking Stock: US Remains in Congressional Deadlock on Gun Reform as Shootings Reach Historic Levels
© AP Photo / Joshua BessexPolice walk by a small memorial as they investigate after a shooting at a supermarket on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y.
© AP Photo / Joshua Bessex
The mass shooting that left 19 students and two adults dead at Texas’ Robb Elementary School on Tuesday is regarded as the US’ deadliest shooting since last week’s racially-motivated massacre of 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, and the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that resulted in 27 deaths.
Two days before the final day of classes, an 18-year-old suspected gunman identified as Salvador Ramos claimed the lives of at least 19 students and two adults in Uvalde, Texas. The grim incident served as a reminder of how little the US has done to tackle gun violence since the 2013 failure of the ‘Manchin-Toomey’ gun control measure, which called for expanded background checks to most gun sales.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, the US has experienced 3,500 mass shootings since the Sandy Hook gunman slaughtered 20 children and six adults in the deadliest school shooting in US history.
“How many children have to die before politicians stop caring as much about their political careers as they do about their constituents and the lives of the children?” asked Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, during an appearance on ‘The Reid Out.’ “These shootings are everywhere.”
Both US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris reacted to the Texas school shooting in separate speeches presented Tuesday evening.
“I’d hoped, when I became president, I would not have to do this again,” Biden said, making reference to the Sandy Hook shooting that took place while he served as then-President Barack Obama’s vice president.
He then called out the National Rifle Association (NRA), asking when the nation would “stand up to the gun lobby” because he is “sick and tired” of gun massacres.
Former US President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at the annual NRA meeting on May 27, marking the sixth time he has appeared as a speaker at the prominent gun rights lobbying organization’s event.
Biden also called on Congress to “keep weapons of war off our streets,” presumably referring to the AR-15 style rifle recovered Tuesday alongside several magazines.
Harris, who spoke Tuesday at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, called for congressional action, urging elected officials to “understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to ensure something like this never happens again.”
Per the FBI, the number of active shooter incidents in the US jumped by 52.5% in 2021 when compared to the previous year. Of the 61 active shooter incidents identified in 2021, 12 met the criteria for a mass shooting.
An active shooter event is defined as an incident in which one or more individuals are “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.”
23 May, 21:14 GMT
“Today, we are witnessing again and again the terrible consequences of hate and the consequences of violence,” Harris said, emphasizing that there is a “new sense of urgency” to take a stand against it.
Such calls were not well-received by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who responded to the massacre in his state by proclaiming that gun reform is not the solution to “yet another act of evil and mass murder.”
Cruz claimed that Democrats were trying to co-opt tragedy and politicize the trauma of parents and children in an effort to “try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”
“That doesn’t work,” the US senator from Texas said. “It’s not effective.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) once again pushed for the Senate to vote on the ‘Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022,’ which seeks to establish domestic terrorism units within the FBI and US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. The measure was passed with a 222-203 vote in the House last week.
The 50-50, Democrat-Republican Senate has been a roadblock for Democratic legislation, including two bills passed by the House in March 2021 that seek to enhance the background check process for prospective gun owners in the US and close up loopholes in the nation’s gun legislation, such as those which allow gun show and online purchases of firearms to occur without the same checks as an in-person gun purchase.