What will it take to get sensible gun reform in the US?

At least eight people have died in yet another mass shooting in Texas yesterday. Another report described the scene.

The shootings took place on Saturday at the Allen Premium Outlets mall about 25 miles (40km) north-east of Dallas.

The shooter was dead at the scene, local ABC affiliate WFAA TV reported, citing the Collin county sheriff.

“He pretty much was walking down the sidewalk just … shooting his gun outside,” a witness told the station. “He was just shooting his gun everywhere for the most part.”

Blood could be seen on sidewalks outside the mall and white sheets covering what appeared to be bodies. At least one cellphone video taken by someone outside the mall and circulated on social media showed what appeared to be multiple dead people.

Texas allows its residents to legally carry guns without a license or training. Last August, a federal judge struck down a Texas law raising the legal age for people to carry handguns from 18 to 21.

In 2019, a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killed 23 people. A shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year left 19 students and two teachers dead.

[Texas Governor Greg] Abbott, a Republican, has supported keeping guns as accessible to the public as possible. That is the case even as a recent poll commissioned by Fox News, whose viewers are largely Republican, found that American voters favor gun control measures and worry that they will be victimized by firearms violence.

The country of Serbia has now experienced what is common in the US, and that is mass shootings.

A man suspected of killing at least eight people in Serbia has been arrested following a massive manhunt, leaving the country reeling from its second mass shooting in just two days.

The latest shooting happened late on Thursday night when an attacker opened fire in the village of Dubona, about 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) southeast of the Serbian capital Belgrade, Serbian media reported.

He then fled the scene, before later opening fire in two other villages, Mali Orasje and Sepsin.

The suspect – identified by authorities as a 21-year-old male named Uros B – was arrested on Friday morning. Serbian police confiscated four hand grenades from the home where the suspect was hiding, according to RTS.

On Wednesday, Serbia was rocked by news of a 13-year-old boy opening fire on classmates at a school in the capital Belgrade. That shooting left at least eight children dead, along with a security guard.

What is different from the US is the response of the Serbian government.

Serbia’s president Aleksander Vucic expressed his condolences to the victims of the two attacks and pledged that the government will make urgent changes in weapon legislation.

He announced that Serbia will hire 1,200 new police officers in the next six months to bolster security in schools, and pledged to introduce tougher gun control laws.

Among the proposed changes were stricter conditions for people to purchase weapons, doubling fines for people found breaking the law, requiring hunters to go through annual checks and a national gun buyback program for those who can’t fulfil the tougher conditions.

Until this week, mass shootings were rare in Serbia, despite the country’s high rate of gun ownership. Serbia has the highest level of civilian gun ownership in Europe, and the fifth-highest in the world – a legacy of years of conflict in the 1990s.

Abbott has said that “his heart” was with the people of the town in Texas. That is about as useful as giving his ‘thoughts and prayers’, which is not at all. What people need is action on gun control.

Suicides account for more than half of all gun deaths in the US. Suicide attempts are much more likely to be successful if the person has access to a gun. Suicides are the third leading cause of death among young people age 10-24, behind accidents and homicides. Guns are involved in half of all suicide deaths.

I keep waiting for some kind of tipping point, when the scale of gun violence reaches such a high that even right wing politicians have an epiphany that the status quo is untenable. It is clear that the high number suicides involving guns will not do it. Only mass shootings still have some ability to chock and provide a chance of triggering some action on gun control.


  1. Silentbob says

    We had a gun buy back in the 90s after a spree shooting in Port Arthur. It worked.

    Australia’s gun buyback scheme has been very successful in terms of preventing mass shootings and gun deaths. Since the 1997 buyback scheme there has been one mass shooting, when a man in Western Australia killed six family members and himself in 2018.

    The buyback and accompanying National Firearms Act “reduced the risk of an Australian dying by gunshot by more than 50 per cent”, according to Professor Alpers. Australia has one of the lowest rates of gun deaths in the world as a result of the reforms with 0.9 per 100,000 people in 2019 according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data..


    Of course Australia never had the insane infatuation with firearms of the US.

  2. says

    What will it take for sensible gun laws to be enacted in the US? That’s easy: It will take Republicans being voted out of office en masse and over a significant length of time.

  3. Mark Dowd says

    Honestly? I think BLM and Antifa could hold Mitch McConnell’s family hostage at gunpoint and Republicans still wouldn’t support gun control.

    Cubist’s is the only solution. And fat chance of that with how fucking dumb Republican voters are.

  4. anat says

    A lot more Democratic governors being voted in and calling for a constitutional convention. Not going to happen in a generation time. Maybe a crisis the size of the lead-up to the Civil War causing a total political re-alignment.

  5. billseymour says

    Oh, dear! With the success that the Republicans have had at gerrymandering, the thought of a constitutional convention is pretty scary.

  6. sonofrojblake says

    After Sandy Hook, surely the answer is obvious: never gonna happen.

  7. Pickled Tink says

    What will it take? When they and their families suffer multiple deaths due to mass shootings in a short period of time. Absolutely nothing else will come close to accomplishing it.

    As it stands, it is far more likely that they will make gun ownership mandatory in response to this. After all, only more guns can solve gun crime. Maybe once 100% gun saturation is reached, people will have peace?

  8. says

    @7 Pickled Tink: What will it take? When they and their families suffer multiple deaths due to mass shootings in a short period of time.

    Nope. See: Scalise, Steve. There are two things that can make protections from gun violence a reality here.
    First, as previously stated, a wholesale removal of the gun fondlers in Congress, statehouses, and on the bench. As noted, difficult (but not impossible, especially given that so-called independents increasingly are being turned off by Republican moves in multiple areas).
    Second, corporations start losing a lot of money due to the current situation (or, discover that they can increase profits with increased protections). This is America, after all, and it’s always about the money.

    If the slaughter of a couple dozen small children and their teachers at Sandy Hook wasn’t enough, certainly, it’s not a matter of conscience or ethics. It’s a matter of legislators being on the hook to the gun industry (and their juicy donations, er, bribes). You have to cut one or both.

    The 2A is an anachronism that has been used by the gun industry and their media allies to whip up paranoia and fervor among a small but extremely vocal segment of the population in order to drive sales. Unfettered capitalism at its best.

  9. says

    There is one other possibility, and that is the purchase and public carrying of firearms by very large numbers of non-white people. Especially ones in their 20s and 30s. That will scare the shit out of every aging Fox News viewer who know in their hearts that they’d have no chance in a real shootout. In other words, maybe we could use the widespread latent racism to the country’s advantage. See the Mulford Act (signed by then Gov. Reagan in 1967). Of course, there’s also the white nationalists to deal with, and that would just give them an excuse to start murdering brown people. So, maybe not such a good idea these days…

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    I keep waiting for some kind of tipping point…

    This reminds me of a history I read long ago about the Prohibiton era in the US. Federal agents and gangsters engaged each other in more and more gun battles, often in public streets, but politicians still dragged their feet on voting for Repeal -- until one evening, a leading senator and his wife walked around a corner in D.C. just as a shoot-out started, which killed them both.

    Congress voted for Repeal very soon afterwards.

  11. John Morales says

    What will it take to get sensible gun reform in the US?

    More than it will take to gun reform in any form.

  12. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Part of the problem is that “common sense gun control” means different things to different people.

    Didn’t Democrats have a majority in congress a few years ago? Was it those one or two senators that wouldn’t vote for some gun control that stopped it? Why didn’t the Democratic majority in congress and the Democratic president pass some gun control? Such as mandatory training, testing, and licensing? Waiting periods? Background checks? Why didn’t they try anything then? Sigh.

  13. beholder says

    @13 GerrardOfTitanServer

    Why didn’t they try anything then?

    Silly GOTS, you’re supposed to just vote for Democrats, not expect them to do anything worth voting for when they’re in office.

    @ Mano

    What will it take to get sensible gun reform in the US?

    I think a mass shooting where the victims are members of the ruling class at a posh getaway would probably tip the needle.
    Hard to say, though. Gun worship is so tightly interwoven with our fanatical devotion to the U.S. military, warfare, and arms exports abroad that we would probably need to dismantle the Pentagon and the State Department at the same time.

  14. ardipithecus says

    And the SCOTUS, which is hell-bent on dismantling those legal protections which do (or did) exist.

    The core of the problem is societal, not legal. The popularity of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, especially the AR-15 is far more likely a consequence of gun-fondler culture than a cause of it. It is unlikely that any legislation will have a large impact, but laws and regulations could have many smaller impacts. The real change has to come from social stigmatizing of the gun fondler culture. Might start with Hollywood’s glorification of gun violence.

  15. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Sigh. Concerning the USA: Fully-automatic firearms, aka machine guns, are already heavily regulated. The number of crimes committed with automatic firearms of any kind is extremely small, and the number of crimes committed with legally owned and registered fully-automatic firearms is basically zero.

  16. says

    Might start with Hollywood’s glorification of gun violence.

    Was it “Hollywood” that coined the phrase “Second Amendment remedy?” NO, it was the Republican Party. At least “Hollywood” admit they’re doing fiction and fantasy. But it’s the Republicans deliberately passing their fantasies off as reality. They’re the ones bringing their culture of violence and intolerance into the real world — let’s not let “Hollywood” distract us from that important fact.

  17. John Morales says

    ardipithecus: “The popularity of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, especially the AR-15 is far more likely a consequence of gun-fondler culture than a cause of it.”
    Gerrard: “Sigh. Concerning the USA: Fully-automatic firearms, aka machine guns, are already heavily regulated. The number of crimes committed with automatic firearms of any kind is extremely small, and the number of crimes committed with legally owned and registered fully-automatic firearms is basically zero.”

    Gerrard, the claim was about “automatic and semi-automatic”, not just automatic weapons. And about their general popularity, not about the proportion of crimes where they are instrumental.

    Still, fair enough. Your retort is suggestive, and actually sensible (ish):
    If fewer crimes are committed with automatic firearms than with semi-automatic ones, then it’s appropriate to further restrict the latter than the former, which already is heavily regulated.

    In short, you too think semi-automatics should be more heavily regulated.

    (Me, I think all firearms should be more heavily regulated. I don’t fancy getting shot)

    Hey, I wonder how heavily regulated muzzle-loading muskets are? 😉

  18. sonofrojblake says

    Re: blaming Hollywood -- if it was in any way Hollywood’s fault, Hong Kong would have had a terrible epidemic of balletic martial arts violence in the 70s and 80s.

  19. says

    Hollywood. Oh my, yes, it’s all their fault. Because people in countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand do not watch any Hollywood movies and that’s why they don’t have mass shootings like the US.

    I’ll be the first to admit that we have a problem where we glorify violence and are ashamed of sex, but blaming Hollywood for the epidemic of gun violence is like blaming a mirror that you forgot to shave this morning.

  20. lanir says

    The problem with guns isn’t about a tool, it’s about an identity. No matter how much people talk about guns as a self-defense tool it’s not about that at all. We don’t get pushback because guns are a tool, we get pushback because there’s a very vocal segment of conservatives that see guns as a symbol. The only way to get sensible gun legislation is for that symbol to lose its meaning for more people.

    I think that’s actually something that’s happening right now. Schools are teaching a whole generation of American children that guns aren’t cool, they’re something that makes you go through kiss-my-ass-goodbye drills. Superheroes who largely don’t use guns are more popular. Republicans are being far more open with the most disgusting fringe views in their party so it’s much easier to find something that alienates you. So the pro-gun side in government looks strong now but everything that made them that way is crumbling.

    The problem with guns now is a matter of time. There’s no way to deprogram enough people to turn things around right now. But if things keep going as they are, positive change is inevitable. As long as we don’t give up or backslide before more fanatics die off and present day school children grow up enough to vote. Politicians still promote gun fondling because it’s useful to them and they think it’s popular enough to be worth catering to the fanatics. But I think that dynamic is shifting.

  21. ardipithecus says

    Yes. I think you and I saying much the same thing in different ways.

    Far right extremists have usurped the gun culture and bent it towards their own ends. They have the money and political support they need to at least keep it going. There is at least some evidence that this is how they are conducting the race war that they have been prophesying for some time now.

    Conservatives have a problem. Humanity is not split evenly between those who believe in each person for themselves, concentration of power in a small number of hands, and might makes right -- the core of conservatism; and those who believe in cooperative effort, see concentration of power and wealth as destructive, and might makers wrong -- core value of leftie. Roughly speaking somewhere around 3/5 to 2/3 of people nowadays lean toward the latter. To win elections, conservatives need everybody they can get, so they must embrace their extremist elements. They also need to spin their propaganda in ways that vilify their opponents. Extreme wealth and its associated power tend to support that because it will also serve to maintain that wealth and power.

    The average American conservative does appear to be getting fed up with the extreme elements. maybe the corner is turning Even so, it will take generations.

    NB: I’m not blaming Hollywood. They don’t create the social structures, they reflect them back. The solve-everything-with-guns principal only reinforces where that kind of attitude already exists sufficiently. Different cultures respond differently to entertainment memes. That’s true even within the US. Not all American sub-cultures buy into the gun fondler mentality.

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