Guns and Deaths in The United States
The Orlando massacre. the worst mass shooting in our history, brought the all too familiar responses . Horror, at the event that unfolded over hours on television at the Pulse nightclub. Anguish for the victims, many from the LGBT community, and their families. Dismay from President Obama who called the Orlando shooting “a terrorist and hate” crime.
In the days that followed, emotional vigils were held in the United States and all over the world mourning the 49 dead and 43 injured women and men. The killer was identified as Omar Mateen, an American who had been able to buy his guns with ease even though he had been investigated by the F.B.I. at one time. He carried a semi-automatic rifle with a stock that could be folded to shorten and conceal under a jacket. The magazine could shoot multiple rounds in seconds. He also had other weapons.
After each mass shooting occurs in the United States, there have been renewed attempts to tighten gun control laws in the individual states and the federal government. The most effective federal law ever passed was the Ban on Assault Weapons passed in l994 during the Clinton administration. It had a ten year duration, but failed renewal after 2004. During the ten years it had been in effect, the rate of deaths by those weapons fell across the country. That was also the time that The National Rifle Association, N.R.A. built its power over the members of Congress, setting up their report card for each member.
After the Newtown massacre of twenty first-grade children and their teachers on December 12, 2012 , Connecticut was able to pass a ban on assault weapons. New York, a neighboring state, also passed an assault ban. Both laws include the magazines that shoot multiple rounds in seconds. Parents and legislators organized and fought long and hard battles against the N.R.A. to achieve these victories. In Congress, Senators Manchin and Toomey , led the attempt to pass a law for background checks , closing loop holes at gun shows and on the internet. This law had the support of 85 percent of the American public, including gun owners. The N.R.A. won the votes and the law failed to pass. On June 20, 2016, the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the Connecticut and New York laws banning military-style assault weapons. It was a welcome victory for gun control advocates.
In response to Orlando, U.S. Representative Christopher Murphy of Connecticut began a filibuster in the Senate to force a hearing on gun control bills that were being proposed. It lasted fifteen hours with many Democratic senators and several Republican senators raising additional points of order to give him a break in his talking. When Murphy finally yielded the floor after a passionate closing argument at one a.m. , Majority leader McConnell agreed to allow the bills to be voted on the following Monday, June 20. When the four bills were introduced for the procedural vote that required sixty to pass, all four bills failed.
On Wednesday, June 22, Democrats in the House of Representatives led by John Lewis the Civil Rights icon, began an unprecedented sit- in on the House floor at 11: 30 a.m. They demanded a vote on their three bills on gun violence before the House recessed for the July break. They chanted “No bill, no break” and held pictures of dead victims from the Orlando massacre. Speaker Paul Ryan called their action “a publicity stunt” before he gaveled an adjournment. Republicans left and Democrats remained, joined in the hours that followed by Democratic senators and support from hundreds of people who filled the galleries. Official cameras were turned off, but TV coverage continued on a member’s Facebook. Paul Ryan and Republicans finally returned at ten p.m. He gaveled for order while “No bill; No Break” chants continued amid chaos in the chamber. A vote was taken on one regular order of business. Ryan then adjourned the session and walked out to cries of “Shame!” The Democrats then sang “We Shall Overcome.”
Throughout the night, social media watchers sent supportive Tweets. President Obama congratulated John Lewis for leading the sit-in. The spirit of the protest was summed up by Maxine Waters, a veteran California delegate who said, “I’ll be here until Hell freezes over!” By eight a.m. hundreds of people had gathered outside the House to support the sit-in. John Lewis and Nancy Pelosi came out to thank them. They vowed to continue their demand for a vote on the gun laws every day until the House reconvened in July.
After a mass shooting, gun sales often increase, especially for semi-automatic rifles. Those people most concerned that the government will pass restrictive laws appear to be anxious to stock up before a ban occurs. The Second Amendment credo of the N.R.A. increases in volume and intensity among militia members in the NorthWest. They are ever anxious that the helicopters will be landing to take away all their guns. Conspiracy theories rise and fall over the years, documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the best source for information on Hate Groups in the United States.
The United States leads all advanced countries with our rate of gun deaths. Every day, dozens of Americans are killed by guns. Over 32,000 deaths occur every year; 40 percent homicides and 60 percent suicides. Guns are the main weapon. The six p.m. news usually reports the local people who died as a part of their daily coverage. The United States is considered far removed from other advanced countries in the world with our proliferation of guns in proportion to our population.
The carnage in Orlando has once more raised this terrible fact in our consciousness . For millions of Americans who have lost loved ones, it is personal. The focus once more is on attempts to change our gun control laws, to make it more difficult or impossible for a killer to procure the weapon of choice – a semi or full assault rifle. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party are firmly committed to these increased gun control laws. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee has said he will “talk with the N.R.A” Until this vague “talk” occurs, most Republican members of Congress will adhere to the N.R.A. credo: “It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.”