In response to my letter about the need for gun legislation after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, sent a form response that read, "It is important that we have a serious national discussion about preventing these senseless acts of violence."
Really, Sen. Blunt? Have you not been listening to the "serious national discussion" about mass shootings since the massacre of 6- and 7-year-old children in Sandy Hook and even before?
Isn't it time for the U.S. Congress to quit discussing and start acting?
A Congressional Research Service 2015 report says, "Since the 2012 Newtown (Connecticut) tragedy, the national dialogue on gun violence has been focused on mass public shootings, partly due to several such shootings in recent years (2007, 2009 and 2012) that resulted in double-digit victim counts."
Did Sen. Blunt miss that report? (You can find a horrifying account of the Newtown shooting on Wikipedia.)
In Econ Journal Watch (March 2019), researcher Adam Lankford provides evidence that the higher the gun ownership rate in a given country, the more it is susceptible to mass shooting incidents. It is the only explanation that has been empirically demonstrated in several independent studies, which he cites.
Lankford shows that his primary detractor's statistics actually concur with his conclusions. The article also states that, "Nils Böckler and co-authors (2013) found that 'more (rampage) school shootings have occurred to date in the United States than in all other countries combined.'"
Further, Lankford concludes that the mass shooters in this country (and he is not including familial shooters, but only "lone wolf" killers of strangers in public settings) are most often "civilians who usually get their guns legally ... so they are directly affected by national gun restriction or the lack thereof."
These findings suggest that sensible gun regulations may help stem this national tragedy.
So what to do about our gun-loving country? If we have to get a license to drive a car, if we have to get a license to marry, if we have to get a license to dye someone's hair, why in the world would we not support licenses for owning guns? Or what about requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance?
It has been proven that background checks can reduce carnage. And a waiting period before taking possession of a gun also has a preventive effect. Congress can also stop kowtowing to the gun manufacturers and the NRA and do something about high-volume-fire weaponry, which is intended for a battlefield. No one should need an AR-15 or a 100-round magazine to shoot a deer. We need gun regulations that make sense and that we know will help reduce gun violence.
We can argue incessantly about whether gun regulations will help. We can predict there will still be mass shootings. We recognize that haters and marginalized people will still find ways to spawn terror. But at least we will not be passive — our Congress will be attempting to stop the mayhem that is making ordinary people dive for cover at the sound of a backfiring motorcycle.
If they do not act, if they continue to serve the gun lobby or gun manufacturers, we should not send them back to Congress for another term.
Joan Banks lives in Joplin.