Guest Editorial: Latest shootings underscore need for gun control laws

The recent mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia have become all too common in the United States.

A shooting at a crowded Colorado supermarket that killed 10 people and the March 16 shooting at three Atlanta-area massage businesses that left eight people dead are the latest incidents of mass killings and the daily gun violence that is endemic to the United States.

The attack in Boulder on March 22 was the seventh mass killing this year in the U.S., according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

The attack in Boulder stunned a state that has seen several mass shootings, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting.

The latest shootings in Colorado and Georgia follow a lull in mass killings during the pandemic in 2020, which had the smallest number of such attacks in more than a decade, according to the database that tracks mass killings, defined as four or more dead not including the shooter.

Despite the mass killings and daily gun violence, there has been little action from lawmakers.

Political impasses keep gun control laws from passing Congress.

The time for action is long overdue, but there is no sense of urgency among lawmakers.

The gun lobby and cynical politics have stopped meaningful reforms from being made in the past.

In fact, Republican lawmakers have moved to pass laws calling for less gun control. With Democrats controlling the presidency and Congress, Republican state lawmakers concerned about the possibility of new federal gun control laws have passed legislation in at least a dozen states seeking to nullify any new restrictions, such as ammunition limits or a ban on certain types of weapons.

Background checks and imposing a longer waiting period before allowing a gun purchase are among the common-sense gun legislation that is urgently needed.

Not long before the deadly Atlanta-area shootings, police say, the attacker made a legal purchase: a 9mm handgun.

Within hours, they say, the shooter had killed eight people, seven of them women and six of Asian descent, in a rampage targeting massage businesses.

Lawmakers and gun control advocates say that if Georgia had required the shooter to wait before getting a gun he might not have acted on his impulse.
Most states are like Georgia, allowing buyers to walk out of a store with a firearm after a background check that sometimes takes only minutes. Waiting periods are required in only 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Mandating a window of even a couple of days between the purchase of a gun and taking possession would give more time for background checks and create a “cooling off” period for people considering harming themselves or someone else, according to gun control advocates. Studies suggest that waiting periods may help bring down firearm suicide rates by up to 11 percent and gun homicides by about 17 percent, according to the Giffords Center.

Until lawmakers feel pressure to act on common-sense gun legislation proposals that have been long debated in Congress, the mass shootings and gun violence will continue.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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