As of the end of April, there will have been over 160 mass shootings in the United States in 2023.
Opponents of gun regulation consist mostly of Republican politicians, their wealthy donors backed by the National Rifle Association and the audience of conservative media, which has also been well-funded by groups like the NRA. They stand unified against the slightest regulation.
Government institutions are prohibited from studying gun violence. People on no-fly lists are still permitted to legally obtain guns. Blue states with gun control struggle to prevent the flood of guns from red states. Gun policy is so backward in the United States that there is evidence that gun laws tend to loosen with every nationally-publicized mass shooting.
Opponents of gun control are quick to diagnose the cause of gun violence as anything but guns, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched: mental health, violent video games, “wokeism,” even doors. They even propose that the answer is that there are not enough guns. The solution to gun violence is shootouts in the streets between “good guys (with a gun)” and “bad guys.”
Guns are necessary tools in certain corners of society. So are cars. When we regulated cars, auto fatalities plummeted. Regulation is not the same thing as seizure and prohibition.
Indeed, the problem is multifaceted and complex. But there is no real discussion to be had with actors who refuse to address the problem in good faith. When addressing mental health as more of a scapegoat to limit the conversation on guns than a legitimate policy priority, there is little to do but disregard these unserious actors altogether.
There are ample empirical studies linking loose gun laws to unprecedented gun violence, but it seems like endless evidence and public opinion polls are not enough to cause change.
American gun culture has become corrosive and institutions meant to curb it, like the Supreme Court, are now composed of extremists.
The problem runs deeper than guns because the issue acts as a microcosm to demonstrate how the public and its safety can be held hostage by a few toxic yet powerful members of the political and corporate elite. Don’t lose hope, but don’t misplace the blame. Until they can say that guns are part of the problem, they’re not worth engaging.
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