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The More Things Change… (Part 2)

…The More They Don’t – One Damn Bit.

   

Editor’s Note (all new notes, added April, 2021, are in bold type): Recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder focused U.S. attention again – temporarily – on gun issues. More have occurred since then (in California and Texas, among others), but received less attention; maybe because numbers of deaths were fewer – or maybe because Americans were numbed by the carnage, yet again.

TMM addressed this issue in 2019, with a three-part series on gun violence.

Struck by how relevant that series is today, we decided to re-run it (updated with recent information and images), confirming America’s failure to address this deadly dilemma.

Last week, the first installment, The Gun Battle, Part One: America, We Have a Problem, highlighted the gravity of this ongoing tragedy.

This week, the second installment (The Gun Battle, Part Two: Have We Seen This Movie Before?) identifies the only gun-violence cause both parties might agree on.

We’re reminded again, the more things change…

The Gun Battle, Part Two:  Have We Seen This Movie Before?

   

After two mass shootings (commonly defined as “acts of violence, excluding gang shootings, domestic violence, or terrorist acts sponsored by organizations, in which a shooter kills or injures at least four victims”) within 13 hours, will anything change?  With Dayton and El Paso grieving their combined 32 dead, will politicians piously pledge to “remember them in our thoughts and prayers”?  Or DO something to confront gun violence plaguing America?

Don’t hold your breath.  After 20 children and six adults were slaughtered in a Connecticut elementary school in 2012, America was outraged.  Nothing changed.

Recently, grim news raised awareness that we have endured over 250 mass shootings this year (August, 2019), OVER ONE PER DAY.  Will that translate into action?

President Trump dutifully condemned the shootings, but did little else. He blamed racist hatred (which many blame him for stoking), mental health issues, even violent video games.  While hatred inspires many senseless killings, especially those racially motivated, experts say video games and mental health are less clear causative factors.

Regarding mental health, Republicans’ favorite scapegoat, studies show mentally-ill people are more likely to be hurt or killed in shootings than to perpetrate them.  An overwhelming majority never commit violent crimes.

America doesn’t have a stellar record of treating the seriously mentally ill:  three times more are in jails and prisons than hospitals (ten times more in Arizona and Nevada).

With too few people receiving needed mental-health treatment already, providing care (psychiatrists, nurses, facilities, beds) to all who need it would be prohibitively expensive.  With deficits currently measured in TRILLIONS of dollars, we can’t afford it.

Republicans oppose government spending – except when they don’t.  They oppose spending on things they don’t like, typically social programs (including mental health).  They love spending on tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, defense spending ABOVE the military’s requests, and a wall at the Mexican border (that Mexico was supposedly paying for).

Will we, then, spend substantially on mental health?  Sadly, while Republicans control the Senate and the White House, no.  It’s convenient to blame it for mass shootings, because nothing will actually be done, for the sake of (so-called) fiscal responsibility.

Democrats now control the Senate (barely) and the White House, giving gun-control supporters hope something MIGHT finally be done to address this issue.

How likely are meaningful gun-control measures to be passed by Congress, in the wake of recent shootings?  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell typically stalls such measures, including those passed in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.  McConnell denies them a hearing, much less a vote.

Although Republicans are a minority in the Senate now (and McConnell no longer Majority Leader), they can still block bills, since passage requires 60 votes. The House has already passed gun-control legislation (again), but the Senate has yet to debate it.

After Dayton, El Paso and Trump’s speech, McConnell said bolstering background checks will be one of “two items that for sure will be front and center” in the Senate this fall (2019).

Yet again, don’t hold your breath.

Good thing we didn’t (hold our breath). The Senate did not debate, much less pass, stronger background checks in 2019 nor 2020. GOP senators, including McConnell, passed the buck, waiting for Trump to announce gun policies he would support – which he never did. For the record, McConnell has received over $1.2 million in campaign contributions from the NRA.

 

Images: Google Images

McConnell with gun: Twitter

Atlanta mourners: Time Magazine

Boulder police car: Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton victims: CBS News

El Paso victims: High Plains Public Radio

Sandy Hook School: The New York Times

NRA and Trump: MSNBC News

Trump at border wall: PBS

Trump and McConnell: Florida Politics

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