A tragic shooting occurred in Des Moines, Iowa, on another day in the US.
The attack at a charter school in downtown Des Moines left two students dead and another seriously injured on Monday afternoon as the cable news networks were busy covering the events in Monterey Park, an Asian-majority city east of Los Angeles, where eleven people were shot and killed on Saturday night.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit research organization, there have already been 37 mass shootings this year with one week left in January.
After the Supreme Court overturned New York State’s strict concealed-carry law last year, local gun laws could become less strict.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, many lower court judges all over the country have made decisions that invalidate or ban municipal gun bans.
A tragic shooting occurred in Des Moines, Iowa, on another day in the US. The attack at a charter school in downtown Des Moines left two students dead and another seriously injured on Monday afternoon as the cable news networks were busy covering the events in Monterey Park, an Asian-majority city east of Los Angeles, where eleven people were shot and killed on Saturday night.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit research organization, there have already been 37 mass shootings this year with one week left in January. Four or more people were killed in five of those incidents. (The archive counts an event as a mass shooting if four or more people, not including the shooter, are shot, but not all of them die.) Shots have been fired in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, from one end of the country to the other. Authorities say that the deadliest shooting to date happened at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. It was done by an Asian man who was 72 years old.
Statistics from the Gun Violence Archive and other sources show that there are many different types of mass shootings, including those caused by coworker attacks, random attacks by disturbed people, domestic violence, gang violence, and domestic terrorism, which is defined by the F.B.I. as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Age, race, and social background are no barriers between the offenders and victims of gun violence. It would be silly to try to explain such a complicated thing with a single goal or a single psychological theory. Andrew McCabe, a CNN contributor and former deputy director of the FBI, pointed out on Monday that many of the deadliest mass shootings have one thing in common: It’s easy to get very deadly weapons like the semi-automatic pistol authorities say was used in the Monterey Park shooting. This makes the United States different from most developed countries, where mass shootings don’t happen very often.
Given that this is an unavoidable fact, the response to each new mass shooting is depressingly predictable: denial and obfuscation from the gun lobby and its political stooges, and a sense of hopelessness from the majority, who want stricter gun laws. Republicans are already claiming that even though states like California and Illinois have tight gun-control legislation, the violence hasn’t decreased in the wake of Saturday’s shooting. This argument conveniently ignores that many of the firearms used to cause harm or death in places like Illinois and California were brought in illegally from countries with laxer gun laws.
It appears that may not have been the case in this particular situation. The shooter who started shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, according to sources on Monday, used a firearm that was allowed to be bought in California decades ago. It’s unclear as of yet when and how he got it. But, as the Washington Post reported over the weekend, there is evidence that California’s gun laws, some of which date back to the 1990s, have actually reduced gun violence. Of the 50 states, California has the seventh-lowest rate of firearm-related deaths and a lower-than-average rate of deaths from mass shootings.
But it is undeniable that if we don’t pass more important national gun laws, it will be hard to stop more mass shootings. For the first time in thirty years, Congress passed bipartisan firearms legislation in June of last year, shortly after a former student, then 18 years old, shot and killed nineteen young children at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The law made it easier for people under 21 to buy guns by requiring more background checks. It also gave federal money to states that passed “red flag” laws, which allow judges to take guns away from people who pose a serious threat to others. Even though these changes were good, most Americans knew they weren’t enough to deal with the seriousness of the problem. In a Pew Research survey, 78% of participants felt the new law would have little or no impact on reducing gun violence.
There is almost no possibility that any additional gun control legislation will be passed in this Congress with Republicans now in charge of the House. After the Supreme Court overturned New York State’s strict concealed-carry law last year, local gun laws could become less strict. The law had been in place for a century. Clarence Thomas said in a heated and incorrect ruling for the conservative majority that the Second Amendment gave people a broad right to carry a pistol in public for self-defense. After the Supreme Court’s decision, many lower court judges all over the country have made decisions that invalidate or ban municipal gun bans. According to a report by Hill, the judges in these instances have ruled that it is unconstitutional to prohibit the purchase of firearms by people who have been charged with felonies, to prevent them from purchasing firearms, or to ban guns from public places like summer camps or airports.
The American mass shootings, including the most recent one, have taught us a vital lesson: each is a unique episode with unique circumstances, motivations, and victims. We must never forget this fact or the terrible losses the victims and their families had to go through. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that all of these tragedies occur in a society where the sale of lethal weapons for business has been made possible, making it quite simple for those with cruel intentions to obtain one. The bloodshed will continue unless and until this situation is changed.