We have had a recent history of tragic mass shootings. Here are a few of the more deadly attacks.
December 2, 2015 14 killed, 22 injured San Bernardino, CA
June 12, 2016 49 killed, 58 injured in Orlando FL nightclub shooting
September 23, 2016 5 killed Burlington, WA
October 1, 2017 59 Killed, more than 500 injured Las Vegas
February 15, 2018 17 killed 14 wounded in Parkland FL
Before the recent Florida school killing, the Pew Research Center reported that Republicans and Democrats find rare common ground on some gun policy proposals. Both parties continue to favor preventing people with mental illnesses from buying guns, barring gun purchases by people on federal no-fly or watch lists, and background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows. Polling also shows that 70% of Americans favor stricter laws on the sale of assault weapons. That includes 87% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans.
The New York Times reports that universal background checks for gun buyers has overwhelming support of 97% including gun owners. There is a 67% margin in favor of a ban on the sale of assault weapons as well as a 83% backing for mandatory waiting periods for gun purchases.
So, how do we explain the fact that Congress has steadfastly refused to make any significant changes in our laws regarding the ability to buy and possess firearms? In spite of public support for some proposed changes, Congress hasn't moved. The question really isn't so much the extent to which changes in gun laws would prevent killing as it is why even modest changes are refused by members of Congress. The answer is money. $5,122,000 was spent by the National Rifle Association in lobbying in 2017. Millions have been contributed to members of Congress by the NRA.
In February of this year a gun safety organization published a full-page ad in the New York Times entitled "These members of Congress take NRA money, but refused to take action to pass gun safety legislation." The reported the names of most members of Congress. Some of the amounts were shocking. These members of Congress received over million dollars from the NRA:
Sen. Tom cotton of Arkansas $1,968,714, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida $1,012,980, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri $1,488,706, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina $1,399,698, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina $1,971,554, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin $1,015,173 and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio 1,472,789.
Other members of Congress who accepted large amounts of money from the NRA included:
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama $259,464 Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona $365,302, representative French Hill of Arkansas $543,612, representative Kenneth Buck of Colorado $800,544, Sen. David Perdue of Georgia $355,854, represented Mike Simpson of Idaho $385,731, Sen. Todd Young of Indiana $450,095, representative David Young of Iowa $384,121 Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa $331,984 Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa $235,907 Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas $707,084 Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky $820,375 Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana $419,651 Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana $215,788, representative Lloyd Smucker of Oregon $222,736 Sen. John Thune of South Dakota $632,486,
It's one thing to argue about what impact specific legal changes would have on mass killings and gun violence in America. It's quite another to refuse to pass any laws whatsoever because the legislator has been paid off by the NRA. It's legal bribery. Until we pass campaign finance laws that are meaningful we will continue to have our legislatures bought by the rich and the powerful in order to keep their political jobs.