As long as the filibuster remains in place, there is no chance that Republicans will allow meaningful gun safety legislation to pass through the Senate. President Biden has made some of the moves available to him, issuing executive orders to crack down on “ghost guns” (serial-number-free, do-it-yourself gun kits sold and assembled at home), as well as chip away at some of the more purposefully vague distinctions that gun accessory manufacturers try to use to get around existing gun laws. But these are small moves, at a time when 84% of all Americans would like their elected officials to pass the bare minimum of gun safety laws.
These new shootings are not unique this year. As the Washington Post reports, 2020 was the deadliest year for U.S. gun violence in decades, with shooting deaths in the U.S. reaching “a peak of roughly 58 per day,” from July 2020 into early 2021. And as we approach the summertime and more people emerge from the darkest isolations of our pandemic protocols, gun violence and deaths have begun to surge again. Unsurprisingly, one of the factors in the 2020 rise of gun violence … a 66% increase in gun sales over the previous year.
The Post found that the number of fatal shootings the Gun Violence Archive classified as some type of accident increased by more than 40 percent from 2019 to 2020. The number of deadly incidents involving children — who may get guns from adults who do not store them properly — also rose by 45 percent, though a share of that is attributable to other types of shootings. Researchers have noted worrying signs that gun-related suicides, intimate-partner violence and family violence are also on the rise.
The pandemic has accentuated our country’s fundamental problems and systemic failures. All of the ingredients for crime and gun violence and domestic violence have increased during lockdowns. The income inequality gap has increased, employment opportunities have languished, and gun availability has reached an all-time high. The nature of the GOP position as oligarchical warmongers has meant that even the most minimal pieces of policy legislation are stalled. A reminder that even with most children not attending schools in person in 2020:
- “Nearly 300 children were shot and killed in 2020 … a 50 percent increase from the previous year.”
- ”More than 5,100 kids and teens 17 and younger were killed or injured last year—over 1,000 more than any other year since 2014.”
Metal detectors, teachers with guns, and police officers inside of schools does zero to protect our children from gun violence. The Gun Violence Archive (GVA), that attempts to track shootings and its consequences by way of police reports and media reports, says that so far this year, more than 8,700 have died as the result of gun violence. The GVA, which defines mass shootings “as those involving four or more people who were shot,” says that there were about 600 mass shootings in 2020. As of June 2021, the GVA has counted “at least” 267 mass shootings. If the rates increase, as they always do over the summer, we will likely see a new U.S. record.
Over the weekend, Austin Mayor Steve Adler told reporters that the police have been implementing new violence prevention programs “But this crisis requires a broader, coordinated response from all levels of government. One thing is clear—greater access to firearms does not equal greater public safety.”