US deadly weekend of more mass shootings raises stakes for Senate gun talks
The gruesome new trail of death and injury, broken families, grief and fear, has raised the stakes for the Senate’s latest effort to finally do something to stem the shootings and massacres and the costs of a new political failure.
Tim Kelly, the mayor of Chattanooga, where three people were killed and 14 injured after a shooting over the weekend, warned on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday that “it’s going to be a long, hot summer” for towns like the his unless Congress passes common sense gun reform.
But due to political constraints rooted in conservative opposition to sweeping changes to the law, the congressional effort, led by Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, may not go through. fully attack shootouts like the one in Chattanooga. Still, the measure hits a tipping point this week even though it won’t be enough to end the violence in a country awash with guns.
And if even a massacre is averted by progressive measures and lives are saved, it could mark a significant political victory and a sign that Washington can actually do something to mitigate a deadly threat.
“I’ve never been in negotiations as serious as these. There are more Republicans around the table talking about changing our gun laws, investing in mental health than at all moment since Sandy Hook,” Murphy told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I’ve also been in a lot of unsuccessful negotiations in the past, so I’m sober about our chances.”
A fierce political debate
There is no realistic chance that President Joe Biden’s call in an emotional televised speech last Thursday for a ban on the assault weapons used in many recent massacres will be successful.
Meanwhile, GOP leaders like former President Donald Trump describe any tinkering around gun laws as the start of an inevitable slippery slope toward the end of the Second Amendment, an overstatement and misinterpretation that has often sabotaged action in the past.
“We vote for Republican senators. We believe in the Second Amendment. Like many, we struggle to find good answers to our current problem of gun violence in America,” the group wrote in an open letter.
But the structural obstacles to reform remain strong. While many Americans view their right to bear arms as an essential part of self-defense and national identity, polls show that even many Republicans see some kind of reasonable additional regulation as necessary. But a militant minority within the GOP and the power of the gun lobby have thwarted almost every reform effort in response to the massacres of recent years.
The question before the Senate this week is therefore not only whether the political remoteness of the nation allows the adoption of certain measures to make the country a little safer. It’s about whether real debate is even possible in a bitterly divided Washington about the true causes of the deaths of so many innocent people.
“Enough, enough,” Biden said Thursday shortly after his second trip in weeks to comfort those left behind after one of the US massacres. His words resonated Sunday in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the city’s mayor spent his second weekend in a row holding a press conference after a massacre.
“Once again we had people who decided to solve their problems with guns,” said Kelly, who is not officially affiliated with either party and who says he is a hunter and that promotes responsible gun ownership, but wants to see extensive background checks and high limits. capacity stores.
He continued, “I’m sick of standing in front of you talking about guns and dead bodies.”
A deadly trail of weekend shootings
By early Sunday evening, figures detailing a weekend of violence had reached staggering levels, even given the steady daily toll of murders and gun incidents.
Since Friday alone, there have been 10 mass shootings across the country that have killed at least 12 people and injured many more. Not to mention all the other smaller shootings that happened, part of the drumbeat of death. At times over the weekend, news of new shootings came at hard-to-believe speeds.
Of course, most Americans went about their business without coming into contact with violence. But the indiscriminate nature of recent shootings at schools, doctors’ surgeries, supermarkets, bars and parties shows how deeply rooted the threat of gun violence is in daily life. None of those killed in these attacks had reason to believe that their lives would end in relatively mundane places.
- Three people were killed and 11 injured in Philadelphia Saturday night. Police said multiple gunmen fired into a crowd in the bustling South Street nightlife district. “Once again we see lives needlessly lost and people injured in another horrific, brazen and despicable act of gun violence,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
- In the incident in Tennessee, two people died of gunshot wounds and 14 were injured in a shootout in Chattanooga. A third person died after being struck by a vehicle during the incident, police said.
- Nationwide, in Mesa, Arizona, two people were killed and two others injured in a shooting at a bar.
- In Phoenix, Arizona, a 14-year-old girl died and at least eight people were injured in a downtown shooting early Saturday morning.
- In another mass shooting, in Summerton, South Carolina, eight people were injured and one was killed. Police told CNN affiliate WIS that two cars pulled up in a yard where a high school graduation party was taking place. The victims were between the ages of 13 and 36.
- Five people were injured at another high school graduation party in Socorro, Texas when someone started shooting into the crowd.
- Three people were injured and one was killed in an incident in Omaha, Nebraska.
- In Chesterfield, Virginia: one person was killed and five others were injured
- And in Macon, Georgia, three people were injured and one was killed when shots were fired in a Bibb County neighborhood.
- In several other incidents that would not be classified as mass shootings in recent days, two people attending a funeral were shot outside a church in Lexington, Kentucky, police said. Both were injured. And on Friday, a former Wisconsin judge was shot dead in what police said was a targeted attack.
A huge political disconnect
Murphy told CNN in his ‘State of the Union’ interview that the recent outbreak of violence across the country has taken anxiety about gun violence to levels he’s never seen. previously.
“When I was in Connecticut last week, I never saw the look I had on the parents’ faces. There’s just a deep, deep fear for our children right now,” he said. he told Tapper. Murphy also said there was “also a fear that the government is so fundamentally broken that it cannot put politics aside to ensure the one thing that matters most to the adults of this country, physical safety. of their children”.
“And so I think the possibility of success is better than ever,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “But I think the consequences of failure for our whole democracy are greater than ever.”
Yet the political stance of many Republicans — as the party eyes big wins in the midterm elections in November — is also weighing on the chances of success.
“It’s immediately about Democrats wanting to take guns,” Scalise said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Let’s get to the root of the problem. How can we do a better job of connecting the dots and stopping something before it happens. Like we did after 9/11, which has worked really well in this about stopping terrorist attacks,” Scalise said. When asked why the United States has far more gun killings than other developed countries where guns are far less available, he blamed what he called “crazy calls of the Liberal Democrats to withdraw funding from the police.
The difference between Murphy and Scalise on this issue underscores why hopes for progress this week in Washington are tempered by the experience of the deep chasm that exists in the United States on gun reform. And that raises questions about whether Washington will ever be able to keep Americans safe.