If you ask Republicans, the solution to mass shootings is to allow completely unfettered and unrestricted gun sales to everyone except “the blacks.” But despite their opposition to even something as simple as background checks (and the repeated assertions that this life-saving measure solves nothing), mass shootings occur at a lower rate in states that make sure someone who is buying a gun isn’t a dangerous criminal.
On Thursday, favorite conservative boogeyman Everytown for Gun Safety released a report that revealed that the likelihood of a mass shooting occurring drops by 52 percent in states that require people to go through a background check before purchasing a handgun:
Between January 1, 2009 and July 31, 2015, there were 37 mass shootings in states where background checks were required for all handgun sales and 96 mass shootings in states where they were not. Controlling for population, there were 52 percent fewer mass shootings in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in states that do not.
The study revealed an even more distinctive difference in mass shootings committed by people who are not permitted to possess firearms — a detail that blows away right-wing arguments that criminals are going to acquire guns no matter what we try to do to stop them. During the same period. There were 44 mass shootings committed by people known to be prohibited from possessing firearms. Ten of those shootings occurred in states that require background checks for handgun sales while 34 occurred in states that do not. “Controlling for population, there were 63 percent fewer mass shootings committed by people prohibited from possessing firearms in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in those that do not,“ the gun safety group notes.
During the period the study evaluated, 76 mass shootings were related to domestic violence. Again, background checks made a difference. Seventeen of those shootings occurred in background check states while 59 happened in states that do not take that simple measure to save the lives of their citizens — that’s a 64 percent difference.
While the federal government requires background checks before most guns are purchased, people can get around the requirement via online purchases or by buying their weapons at gun shows. Eighteen states have closed the “gun show loophole,” but most turn a blind eye to the safety of their populace by pretending that it is not a problem.
“This is just the latest piece of evidence that Americans are safer from gun violence in states where a handgun buyer must pass a criminal background check before buying the firearm,” Everytown Research Director Ted Alcorn told The Hill.
“We already know that closing the loophole that allows guns to be sold without background checks online and at gun shows is an essential component to reducing gun violence.”
Conservatives are likely to pretend this data is meaningless, despite the fact that 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns in states that require background checks (You’re unlikely to see the “police lives matter” crowd mention this).
It’s time that we, as Americans, stand up and demand that our politicians take gun violence seriously — perhaps even as seriously as Australia, which has not seen a mass shooting since 1996 (an effort that was spearheaded by a conservative):
At the heart of the push was a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.) In the wake of the tragedy, polls showed public support for these measures at upwards of 90 percent.
This extremely popular and sensible effort reduced firearm homicides by 59 percent and gun-related suicides by 65 percent between 1995 and 2006 with no. Despite Republican fears, there was no corresponding increase in non-firearm homicides, home invasions did not increase, and robberies involving a firearm also dropped. Most importantly, there were 11 mass shootings in the decade before the legislation was enacted. There has not been a single one since.
While we can not exactly trust our Republican-controlled Congress to adopt the same sensible ideas to deter gun violence, next year is an election year. Head to the polls. Vote. Get some people into office who give a damn about America. When you stay home, Republicans — including those who feel that “your dead kids don’t trump” their guns — win.
Featured Image via KVDR