Editorial: Gun violence is America’s way of life — and death
The nation’s sickening toll of gun violence was made clear once again this weekend, when a barrage of bullets left bloodied bodies strewn in the street, just steps away from California’s state Capitol. Six people dead and a dozen injured. Families in mourning and a community riddled with grief.
Though one suspect has been arrested, the public still knows very little about the who, what, why and how of the Sacramento shooting. What we do know is that it involved weapons that are horrifyingly ubiquitous in the United States and the source of so much death and destruction. While the carnage in Sacramento dominated the headlines, violence also played out across America — a country that loves its guns. On the same day that this horrific shooting rocked Sacramento, at least 95 other shootings took place across the nation.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Another 95 shootings — claiming 36 more lives and injuring 95 more people — just on this one Sunday in April, according to data tracked by the Gun Violence Archive. Two men were killed and two were injured in a shooting in a San Francisco park. Three men were killed and two were injured in a spate of shootings in Baltimore. Six people were hospitalized after shootings in Buffalo, N.Y.
Man arrested in Sacramento mass shooting but not on homicide charges. More arrests likely, D.A. says
Authorities announced the arrest of a man with an extensive police record in connection with the mass shooting that killed six people and wounded 12 others. But he was not charged with homicide.
Gun ownership and violence have been on the rise nationwide for years, but exploded amid the stress of the pandemic and the polarized politics of our times. Gun sales hit an all-time high in 2020, when Americans purchased 22.8 million firearms. Last year was the second-highest year on record, with Americans buying some 19.9 million guns.
Meanwhile, more Americans died from gunshots in 2020 than ever before — some 45,222 souls lost to murder, suicide and accidents, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2021, gun violence increased in Los Angeles and homicide rose statewide. Law enforcement officials blame much of the violence on so-called ghost guns, untraceable firearm kits that are sold in parts without serial numbers.
Other developed nations don’t live like this. The rate of gun homicides in the U.S. is eight times higher than it is in Canada, 13 times higher than it is in France, and 23 times higher than in Australia.
California must do more to stop dangerous people from having guns. It’s shameful that California essentially relies on an honor system asking domestic abusers to relinquish their weapons.
In the aftermath of the Sacramento slaughter, President Biden called on Congress to enact reasonable restrictions on firearms by banning ghost guns, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; requiring background checks for all gun sales; and repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. But after years of inaction despite the nation’s mounting death toll, we have no reason to think Congress will suddenly heed Biden’s call.
In California’s Capitol, though, lawmakers will consider more gun control measures this year, including a bill to allow Californians to sue those who manufacture, distribute, transport and import assault weapons and ghost guns. Other proposals would limit firearms advertising to minors and more stringently regulate marketing and distribution by the gun industry.
But California already has the nation’s strongest gun control laws, including universal background checks and a state database of firearm sales. The Golden State has at least 107 gun control laws on the books, laws that were debated, passed and signed under a Capitol dome that gleams above the deadliest of Sunday’s crime scenes. The state must focus now on holding killers to account, ridding the streets of illegal guns and keeping firearms away from violent individuals.
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