Tighter gun laws can save lives - GulfToday

Tighter gun laws can save lives

Virginia Office Shooting

People pay their respects to the victims of Virginia shooting. Reuters

The killing of 12 people in a Virginia Beach government building once gain draws into focus attitudes towards gun control in America. What is more alarming – and cause for grave concern – is the fact that it is the 150th mass shooting – with four or more people shot or killed – in the United States this year.

“We’re only 151 days into 2019 and there have already been 150 mass shootings. This reality is horrifying,” tweeted Gabrielle Giffords, a former Congresswoman who was seriously injured in a mass shooting in 2011.

The assailant in Virginia Beach was identified as DeWayne Craddock, who was employed for 15 years as an engineer with the city’s utilities department.

The suspect was armed with a .45-calibre handgun with a noise suppressor. The gunman made multiple legal firearm purchases recently, and the guns recovered at the scene were purchased legally.

Several neighbours said Craddock was a clean-cut member of the neighbourhood association board.

The large building where the shooting took place in Virginia Beach housed the city’s public works and utilities offices.

Under heavy rain on Saturday, police guarded the building as FBI agents and forensic experts scoured the shooting site.

“This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach,” Mayor Bobby Dyer told reporters. “The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbours and colleagues.”

US gun ownership laws are among the most lax in developed countries, and legislative efforts to address the issue have long been deadlocked.

But among Democrats, the response to the latest shooting has been sharp.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi decried the “devastating toll” of gun violence. Noting that the House had already passed “commonsense, bipartisan” gun legislation, she added, “The Senate must bring these bills to a vote.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, a presidential aspirant, added, “This sickening gun violence must stop.”

Whatever legislators may say, the man in the street thinks differently. A report in February this year reveals most Americans want tougher gun laws but have little confidence their lawmakers will take action, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The poll of more than 6,800 adults reflects widespread frustration with state and federal lawmakers after decades of mass shootings in the United States. The Feb. 14, 2018, attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and staff.

Among those who want tougher gun laws now, only 14 per cent said they were “very confident” their representatives understood their views on firearms, and just 8 per cent felt “very confident” their elected representatives would do anything about it.

Two months later, another survey said United States adolescents living in states with stricter gun laws may feel safer at school. Stronger gun laws were linked with lower odds that kids had been threatened or injured with any kind of weapon at school, had themselves carried a weapon, or had missed school because they felt unsafe, researchers found.

The data came from 926,639 teens in 45 states, who participated in the Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, a biennial survey of 9th till 12th graders conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As long as the gun lobby is allowed to have its way – and sway – such killings will continue. A tougher approach is sorely needed, and only Time has the answer to this.

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