Editorial: Most Americans want stricter gun laws. Senate Republicans don’t seem to care

Family members who lost a sibling place flowers outside Robb Elementary
Family members who lost a sibling place flowers outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Gun-control opponents like to say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Yet strict gun control will be in effect at Friday’s National Rifle Assn. conference in Houston during a speech by former President Trump.

That’s right. At the gathering of the most ardent opponents of gun control, in the state where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed one of the nation’s laxest gun laws — allowing almost everyone over age 21 to carry handguns without a license — Trump will enjoy the safety of a room where firearms are banned. The Secret Service insists on it.

If only the children and teachers of Texas could be assured such respite in their own classrooms.

Instead, we live in a country where Tuesday’s horrific news that a gunman massacred 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, amounted to the latest entry in a long and tragic list of mass shootings that have killed and injured people at schools, grocery stores, churches, synagogues, movie theaters, concerts, nightclubs and even an office holiday party.


Perhaps it’s the fate of the United States to watch its soul die along with the 19 students and two adults shot to death Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

May 24, 2022

No wonder most Americans want stronger national gun control. A Gallup poll this year found that 52% of Americans said laws regarding the sale of firearms should be made more strict. While that number is lower than it was a few years ago — perhaps a reflection of the gun-buying binge that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic — Gallup’s research nonetheless finds strong public support for common-sense restrictions. That includes proposals to require background checks for all gun purchases, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons, and require a 30-day waiting period for all gun sales.

Congress should act with haste to pass these ideas into law. They won’t stop the nation’s gun violence problem — there are now more guns than people in the United States — but they can help reduce it. Data show that states with strict gun control laws have a lower rate of gun deaths than those with a lax approach to regulating firearms.

So it was a revolting, head-spinning act of arrogance for Abbott to say Wednesday that shootings in California and Illinois “prove” that the gun laws here don’t work.

Then there was the folly of Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton suggesting that the way to curb school shootings is to arm teachers, principals, gym coaches, maybe even guidance counselors. Do we really want to turn those whom we entrust with our children’s education into poorly trained security officers?

A gunman killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, about 80 miles west of San Antonio, on May 24, 2022.

June 3, 2022

The House passed legislation last year to expand mandatory background checks to include nearly every transfer of a firearm, a long-overdue requirement. But it stalled in the Senate, where the arcane filibuster rule requires support from 60 senators to advance most legislation — and Republicans have so far refused to act. And because Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia won’t vote to suspend the filibuster (though he does support “common-sense” gun legislation), the Democratic majority can’t act without Republican support.

Will the small, bullet-riddled bodies in Uvalde, where many of those killed were just 10 years old, finally cause the nation’s leaders to come together to pass reasonable limits on access to deadly weapons? We are not optimistic. It’s been a decade since a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, most of whom were 6 and 7 years old. In that time, most elected Republicans have repeatedly chosen fealty to the National Rifle Assn. over common-sense firearm policy.

But Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is holding out for the possibility of a bipartisan agreement on gun control. For the safety of the nation, we urgently hope it will succeed. Democrats would be wise to look for common ground.


And Republicans should take a cue from the NRA conference in Houston. In agreeing to ban firearms, but not people, in the hall for Trump’s speech, the group acknowledges the obvious: Yes. Guns do kill people.