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Two mass shootings in California reignite the debate on gun control in the United States | International

Two mass shootings in California reignite the debate on gun control in the United States | International
Two mass shootings in California reignite the debate on gun control in the United States | International

The count of mass shootings in the United States is as large as it is volatile: the numbers fall short of the time it takes to empty the magazine of a semiautomatic pistol or an assault rifle, the type of weapon most used in these attacks. So far this year, there have been at least 39 mass shootings across the country —those with at least four injured or dead, not counting the assailant, is the standard definition—, according to a detailed count by the Gun Violence Archive group.

Two of them, who have left a total of 18 dead in just three days in California, have revived the inveterate debate on gun control and, specifically, on two defining aspects of the bloodiest events, those that jump to the headlines: the use of assault or combat weapons, with great lethal potential, and the minimum legal age to acquire them, since the data corroborate the increasing youth of the perpetrators. Although the investigations have not concluded, the first indications suggest that those responsible for the massacres in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, on this occasion a septuagenarian and a sixty-year-old, respectively, of Asian origin, used a semi-automatic pistol to carry out the massacres, theoretically illegal in a state with one of the most restrictive laws in the country.

In the period between these last two shootings, the veteran Democratic senator for California Dianne Feinstein has presented this Monday a bill to prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity chargers, as well as to raise the minimum age to 21 years for buy this combat weaponry. Feinstein collaborated with then-Sen. Joe Biden in 1994 to launch the Assault Weapons Ban Act, which during its decade in force saw mass shootings decline across the country, Democrats say. “But the Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and the sale of those guns was allowed again, [y] mass shootings tripled,” President Biden recalled this Monday in a statement, while urging both Houses to relaunch the law.

Feinstein’s initiative is co-sponsored by co-religionists like Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, one of the most combative voices for regulation. Connecticut is the state forever marked by the massacre at the Sandy Hook school in 2012, with 26 deaths, 20 of them minors, but also the one that after the event spurred activism for gun control.

The so-called Safer Communities Bipartisan Act, passed by Congress last June, put an end to nearly 30 years of political deadlock. It was hailed as a historic breakthrough, but the scope of the legislation fell short of Biden’s own goals by sidestepping the use of assault weapons and the legal age to purchase them, as well as other stricter recommendations on what is known as ” red flag law”, in force, for example, in New York and California, and which allows the confiscation of weapons from a person who proves to be a danger to himself or to third parties, with prior judicial authorization; the bipartisan law only gives indications in this regard to the States.

When said legislation was adopted, which responded to the commotion caused by the massacres in Buffalo (New York) and Uvalde (Texas), with 10 and 19 deaths respectively, “I said that there was still work to be done to guarantee the safety of our communities and prevent dangerous firearms [las de asalto] fall into dangerous hands ”, recalls Biden in the statement released this Monday. According to the Gun Archive Violence count, from the 269 mass shootings registered in 2014, there were 611 in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.

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The approval by Congress of the bipartisan arms control law had a lot to do with the composition of the Houses, then controlled by the Democrats with a tight majority in the Senate and ample room for maneuver in the House of Representatives. The process in the Senate saved the archaic filibustering, which requires 60 favorable votes out of a total of 100 to approve any major law, thanks to the support of 15 Republican senators. But the mid-term elections held in November gave control of the lower house to the Republicans, among whose ranks they have become strong, as demonstrated by the arduous election of the president or speaker Kevin McCarthy, extreme elements, around 10% of the bench , related to lobby of weapons when not enthusiastic champions of their use. McCarthy’s room for maneuver has been left in the hands of that minority.

To the legislative action, in the face of a dog, in the next two years must be added the position of the Supreme Court, the most conservative in the last 80 years, before possible appeals of unconstitutionality on the Second Amendment, which enshrines the right to bear arms . Like the one that the High Court resolved last June, precisely the same day that Congress approved the bipartisan gun control law, agreeing with two individuals from the State of New York who had claimed their right to carry weapons on the street without have to justify the reason for doing so. The ruling goes beyond the limits of New York and was received as an accolade by gun advocates. The swords are raised between the most extreme faction of the Republicans and the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, on the one hand, and the supporters of putting limits on the empire of arms: a bitter fight that will also define the remainder of Biden’s term until the presidential elections of 2024.

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