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In the wake of recent mass shootings in Texas, New York and other places throughout the country, politicians and activists are convening to discuss preventative measures and potential new gun laws.
A bipartisan group of senators began meeting last week to find common ground on gun safety legislation. Reports across the political spectrum suggest that the group may be approaching a consensus on some measures, such as improved school security systems and "red flag laws" that allow courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed to be a risk to others or themselves.
States are taking action as well, with New York and California moving to enact new gun laws in the last few weeks. And pending in the Supreme Court is a decision on whether the state of New York's denial of applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violates the 2nd Amendment.
Elsewhere, a more partisan divide is evident. The National Rifle Association held its annual convention in Houston over the weekend, where top Republican politicians accused Democrats of politicizing the shootings, and advocated for people to continue buying and using guns for self-protection and sport. Outside the convention, thousands of protesters gathered and called for more gun control.
There has been talk of banning certain guns, but nothing concrete yet. President Joe Biden made remarks this week about handguns and gun laws that sparked criticism from fact-checkers and conservative voices, who accused him of encouraging a ban on handguns similar to the one recently proposed in Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Some voices on the left support banning certain types of guns, such as many semi automatic rifles.
Many voices across the spectrum support red flag laws and stricter background checks, but with some disagreement about whether they should be administered at the federal or state level. Several sources on all sides moved to highlight the areas of common ground.
Generally, voices on the right are opposed to outright gun bans and stricter gun regulation. They often attribute mass shootings to mental illness and social issues rather than to the guns themselves, and believe bans would unjustly punish law-abiding people. Conversely, voices on the left are more supportive of banning certain guns and increasing regulations. They often frame access to guns and U.S. gun lobbyists as the main drivers of mass shootings, and see many rifles and other guns as unnecessary for civilians.
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From opposing bans on handguns to supporting universal background checks, there are several key areas where majorities of the U.S. public agree about guns.
Snippets from the Left
"The Democratic-led effort is unlikely to pass the Senate where Republicans can block gun legislation and have indicated they will not support major gun reform. Even though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants GOP lawmakers to work with Democrats on gun measures 'directly related' to the Uvalde shooting, few expect the Kentucky Republican to back a raise in the minimum age."
Polling is clear: Americans want gun control
"To be clear: Americans’ views about guns are complicated, and vary significantly by political party and geography. Overall, the vast majority of Americans support the right for private citizens to own guns, and more than 40 percent of households own at least one firearm. That doesn’t mean they’re against tighter rules on their guns."
Snippets from the Center
"The bipartisan Senate group that formed last week focused on two main proposals outside an assault weapons ban: expanding background checks and “red flag” legislation to bar those deemed a danger to themselves and others from possessing firearms. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 expired in 2004, and reinstating an updated version of that has been a longtime priority for Democrats. Republicans have overwhelmingly resisted such measures — with a handful of exceptions."
Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland. Uvalde. What do we do now?
"Nineteen states, including red states Florida and Indiana, now have gun violence restraining “red flag” laws. Child access protection laws, which mandate safe storage of guns in locked safes in homes with children, could also be effective, and possibly passable in the current political environment."
Snippets from the Right
"The survey, conducted in conjunction with the Convention of States Action (COSA) among 1,091 likely U.S. voters May 25-29, comes in the aftermath of a mass shooting an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 dead, including 19 children. In total, 57.5% of likely voters said they believed properly trained teachers armed with guns would make schools safer, including 62% of adults aged 18 to 24."
Say No to a National ‘Red Flag’ Law
"Legalities aside, it would be a mistake for the federal government to try to create and administer a red-flag system itself. If such laws are to work effectively, it will be because the government that administers them inspires confidence and is close and accessible to the people availing themselves of the laws. There is far too much distance between the federal government and the citizenry for this to work at a national level."