America’s Gun Problem, Explained
The public and research support gun control. Here’s how it could help — and why it doesn’t pass.
It’s happening again: more mass shootings in America. This time, gunmen in an attack in Odessa and Midland, Texas, and another in Mobile, Alabama, shot dozens of people, with at least several reported dead.
Already, the shootings have led to demands for action. “How many of @JohnCornyn @tedcruz constituents must die before they do something?” the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence tweeted, referring to Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Republicans who have resisted stricter gun laws.
But if this plays out like the aftermath of past mass shootings, from Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 to Las Vegas in 2017, the chances of Congress taking major action on guns is very low.
This has become an American routine: After every mass shooting, the debate over guns and gun violence starts up once again. Maybe some bills get introduced. Critics respond with concerns that the government is trying to take away their guns. The debate stalls. So even as America continues experiencing levels of gun violence unrivaled in the rest of the developed world, nothing happens — no laws are passed by Congress, nothing significant is done to try to prevent the next horror.
So why is it that for all the outrage and mourning with every mass shooting, nothing seems to change? To understand that, it’s important to grasp not just the stunning statistics about gun ownership and gun violence in the United States, but America’s unique relationship with guns — unlike that of any other developed country — and how it plays out in our politics to ensure, seemingly against all odds, that our culture and laws continue to drive the routine gun violence that marks American life.