Charleston, South Carolina, is currently grieving over the loss of nine lives in a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17. The nation is grieving over yet another instance of mass murder carried out through gun violence in a public space.
According to Mike Knoller of CBS News, President Barack Obama issued his 14th statement on a shooting attack during his time in office. Obama’s political message — delivered during a somber speech with respect to the victims and their families (video below) — was blunt.
“Now is a time for mourning and for healing, but let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries,” Obama said.
At this point, the Obama administration has been all but helpless in its attempts to pass gun reform legislation. As Knoller noted, the issue repeatedly rises to the forefront of the national discussion every time an instance of mass shooting occurs: in Tucson, Arizona, in Aurora, Colorado, in Newtown, Connecticut, and elsewhere around the nation.
The president has been repeatedly, unsuccessfully trying to lead the effort to enact gun control reforms. Obama established a gun violence task force following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, at a time when the push for gun reform legislation was as strong as it has been in recent history. But bills like universal background checks and the federal assault weapons ban failed in Congress.
While slight gains have been made in some states, gun control reform in the U.S. still remains far behind the rest of the world. As Vox reports, the U.S. had 88.8 guns per 100 people during a survey taken in 2007. The second closest country, Yemen, had 54.8 guns per 100 people. As a study from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center claims, places with more guns tend to have higher rates of homicide.
The right to bear arms is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and some of the arguments in defense of gun ownership are logical, but at some point it has to become obvious that the freedom to own and carry a weapon can be more harmful and dangerous than anything else.
Even with repeated instances of mass gun violence, it’s difficult to convince the American public to sacrifice those freedoms. According to historical data from Gallup, the proportion of people wanting stricter gun control laws has decreased since the 1990s.
In 1990, for example, 78 percent of people felt that “the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict.” In 2014, only 47 percent gave the same answer, with 38 percent claiming the laws should be “kept as they are now.”
The increased coverage of mass shootings is apparently not making people support the gun control reform that the Obama administration has been seeking.
Whether supporters of the Second Amendment want to admit it or not, the U.S. has a problem with gun violence. Guns are, by nature, killing machines.
When access to firearms is easy — according to Gawker, 21-year-old Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Storm Roof was gifted a .45-caliber gun for his birthday this year — it’s much more likely that senseless acts of violence will occur.
The debate over gun control is not an easy one to solve, and it can’t only re-emerge to the public consciousness every time a tragedy like the one that occurred in Charleston makes major media headlines.
Yet it’s obvious that America has a problem that needs to be debated, discussed and, ultimately, dealt with through legislation. The Obama administration knows this, and it’s time for the rest of Washington to at least admit that there's a problem, too.
Image Source: Screenshot via Pundit Press