Explainer: Why can’t U.S. quit its addiction to guns?

Gun Rights

A man holds up a sign denouncing gun violence during a memorial for victims of a mass shooting at Monterey Park City Hall, California, the United States, on Jan. 23, 2023. Hundreds of people gathered at the Monterey Park City Hall Monday evening for a memorial for the loss of the shooting which killed 11 and wounded nine. (Photo by Zeng Hui/Xinhua)

Gun violence is engraved in U.S. genes, ironically with a shimmer of “glory.” In modern times, the “glory” is turned into a political tool.

Sadly, the United States will continue to experience mass shootings until there is a concerted effort to address the root causes of the problem.

WASHINGTON, May 8 (Xinhua) — Once again, Americans mourned deaths caused by gun violence.

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Three shootings rocked Mississippi, California, and Texas on Friday and Saturday, killing at least 11 people and injuring dozens. As a mark of respect for the victims in Allen, Texas, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered on Sunday that the country’s flags be flown at half-staff until sunset of Thursday.

“The United States has gotten no reprieve from its epidemic of mass shootings,” wrote the New York Times earlier this month. But why?

Gun violence is engraved in U.S. genes, ironically with a shimmer of “glory.” As the Washington Post put it, “The Wild West, with its righteous cowboys and soulless desperadoes. Patriotism and manhood … these elements form part of the mythology of firearms in America.”

People participate in a demonstration to seek age raise for AR-15 sales in Austin, Texas, the United States, Aug. 27, 2022. (Photo by Bo Lee/Xinhua)

The colonists’ use of guns was brutal, American historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz wrote. “Settler-militias and armed households were institutionalized for the destruction and control of Native peoples, communities, and nations.”

In modern times, the hunting element in the U.S. gun culture has been politicized to “an expression of freedom, individuality, hostility to government, and personal self-protection,” Robert Spitzer, a gun-policy expert, was quoted by U.S. news website Vox as saying.

And that’s when the “glory” was turned into a political tool. Gun rights organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) keep defending with ferocity the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives Americans the right to bear arms.

With a large lobbying arm in Washington, the NRA can pressure the U.S. Congress to resist any anti-gun legislation. While the vast majority of Americans support gun control restrictions, including universal background checks, legislation to limit firearms remains deadlocked for decades due to a divided Congress.

This pro-gun organization holds sway partly because “more than half of congressional incumbents” got money from it, with many having financial relationships with the NRA for quite some years, CNN reported.

The reality is that “Americans who oppose gun control are more likely to contact public officials about it and to base their votes on it,” said Matthew Lacombe, associate professor at Case Western Reserve University and former researcher at Barnard College.

Even worse, the Supreme Court ruled in June 2022 that Americans “have a broad right to arm themselves in public.” The New York Times commented that the decision “will make it harder for states and localities to restrict guns outside the home.”

Another bleeding reality is that a massive number of guns are circulating in America, and studies have found a clear link between gun ownership and gun violence. According to a report by the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss research project, there were approximately 120.5 firearms per 100 residents in 2018, meaning there are more guns than people in the United States.

People display photos of victims of gun violence during a march to the Capitol to protest for a ban on assault weapons, in Washington, D.C., the United States, on April 17, 2023. (Photo by Aaron Schwartz/Xinhua)

Bloomberg noted that gun ownership is likely growing after a “gun buying spree” began in 2020. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, four in 10 U.S. adults say they live in a household with a gun, including 30 percent who say they personally own one.

Meanwhile, the intensifying racial conflicts and rising living pressures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, among others, have also played a part in causing a surge in violent crimes, especially shootings with racist tendencies.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit group, the United States has suffered 199 mass shootings and lost at least 14,671 lives to gun violence so far this year.

In a nation under guns, the cycle of violence persists. Sadly, the United States will continue to experience mass shootings until there is a concerted effort to address the root causes of the problem.

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