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Texas School Shooting Reignites Debate Over Gun Laws In US

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution gives US citizens the right to own firearms and according to Pew Research, at least 33 per cent of people have said that they personally own a gun.

US shooting gun laws
The ruling comes as Congress is working toward passage of gun legislation following mass shootings in Texas, New York and California.

AS YET another firing is reported in a US school killing at least 19 children and two adults, concerns were again raised about firearm access to general masses. A sobbing President Biden said, “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” He wanted to turn this pain into action.

What Has Been The Genesis Of This?

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution gives US citizens the right to own firearms and according to Pew Research, at least 33 per cent of people have said that they personally own a gun.

According to the second amendment, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

However, the states in the US have had varying laws with regard to access to firearms. For example, in Alabama, one needs a permit to own a short gun. In Arizona, this can be owned without a permit.

In California, while a permit is needed for the possession of both short and long guns, they are only allowed to carry them openly in counties designated as rural. While in other states, like Alaska and Arkansas, no permit is needed to carry these guns openly anywhere.

According to the Everytown gun control group, the recent mass shooting was the eighth this year. Ten days ago in a similar fashion, an 18-year-old killed 10 African Americans in New York.

The last time when such a deadly shooting as the one in Texas took place was when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. This was in December 2012.

In 2018 as well, 17 children were killed at a Florida high school. But despite all these incidents not much has been done to change the rules of owning a gun in the US.

The Figures

While 33 per cent of people confessed to Pew Research Centre of personally owning a gun, 40 per cent said they live in a household with a gun.

Around half of Americans (48 per cent) have told PRC that they see gun violence as a very big problem in the country today. The research had also noticed varying attituded about gun violence by race, ethnicity, party and community type. 

“About eight-in-ten Black adults (82 per cent) said gun violence is a very big problem – by far the largest share of any racial or ethnic group. By comparison, about six in ten Hispanic adults (58 per cent) and 39 per cent of White adults view gun violence this way,” the Pew report said.

They added that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are far more likely than Republicans to see gun violence as a major problem (73 per cent vs 18 per cent). “And nearly two-thirds of Americans who describe their community as urban (65 per cent) say the same, compared with 47 per cent of suburbanites and 35 per cent of those who live in rural areas,” it said adding that roughly half of Americans (53 per cent) favor stricter gun laws. This is a decline since 2019.

Current Debate

As Biden took control, he had proposed newer restrictions on the access to firearms. “We are experiencing a growing problem, criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes. When these firearms turn up at crime scenes, they often cannot be traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number. The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of these firearms,” he had said.

But time and again, experts have said that the conservatives have always stalled progress on such restrictions because of the pro-gun lobby that supports them. Even days ahead of this shooting, there is an annual convention of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Houston, Texas itself, where former president Donald Trump will address the masses. 

NRA is a pro-gun lobby that promotes possession of guns. Greg Abbott heading Texas will also address the gathering 72 hours after the shooting took place in his state. NRA has meanwhile asked attendees to not bring guns to the convention.

Experts have been arguing that there needs to be a complete ban on not the sale of firearms but even the individual parts. This was corroborated by the White House saying, “The alleged shooter in the Boulder tragedy appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.”

Yet, there is no complete ban. In many states, one can simply go into a store and buy a gun. There is no permit needed for its possession or training to use it.

Also, guns are cheaper in the US. Reportedly, if you wish to buy a powered assault rifle, it won’t cost you more than 500 dollars, similarly, a pistol with a semi-automatic trigger can be brought at 200 dollars only.

Increase Since Pandemic

While the anxiety quotient of Americans increased since 2020, the Centre for the Disease Control (CDC) also reported that the number of gun deaths in the United States has undergone a “historic” rise in 2020.

In 2020, there were 19,350 firearm homicides USA. This was an increase of 35 per cent from 2019. Of every one lac people dying in the US in 2020, 6.1 were those murdered with a firearm. PRC says this was the highest in a quarter-century.

“Since 2009, there have been 274 mass shootings in the United States, resulting in 1,536 people shot and killed and 983 people shot and wounded,” Everytown group said.

Everytown group comprises a large eight million people who are working to end gun violence.

Availability

It has been reported that the US firearms makers have made more than 139 million guns for the commercial market. This has happened in just the last 20 years and the number is independent of those 71 million which were imported.

While Greg Abbott who heads the Texas state is mourning today, last year he was the one to facilitate gun culture in the state. Already having one of the highest firearm death rates, he was the one to sign a law that allowed “anyone in the state over 18 to openly carry a handgun without a license or training”.

ALSO READ: Joe Biden Calls For New Restrictions On Firearms After Texas School Shooting