Deadly tragedies like #UCCShooting are frequent in the United States
The massacre at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has brought to light grim statistics: Despite nearly 300 mass shootings in the US this year and almost 10,000 killed by guns, little action has been taken. Politicians’ responses have become “routine.”
So far in 2015, there have been 294 mass shootings, according to data collected by Mass Shooting Tracker, who defines a mass shooting as at least four people being shot. Since the beginning of the year, 9,957 people lost their lives to gun violence
The Washington Post points out that there hasn’t been a single Sunday-Saturday calendar week during Obama’s second term when such an event hasn’t happened.
Hours after the UCC shooting, in which a gunman killed nine people before being shot dead by police, an emotional and visibly frustrated President Barack Obama pushed for stricter gun laws in a speech. He has given more than a dozen speeches after mass shootings.
By my count, this is the 15th shooting incident at home or abroad on which Pres Obama is making a statement.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 1, 2015
"Each time this happens, I'm going to bring this up," Obama said in a somber statement in the White House press room. "Each time this happens, I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we're going to have to change our laws.
"Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it,” he said.
His comments were echoed by an unlikely figure: Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
"Absolutely a terrible tragedy," he told the Washington Post over the phone. "I just don't remember – years back, I just don't remember these things happening. Certainly not with this kind of frequency."
Despite such high frequency, Americans are generally hesitant to support restrictions on gun ownership that would ostensibly prevent these kinds of tragedies.
A poll by Quinnipiac University showed that 48 percent of Americans oppose more gun control, with 45 percent supporting. Those numbers are predictably distributed along party lines: While 73 percent of Democrats want stricter gun control, only 23 percent of Republicans support such measures.
The story, however, gets much more interesting when the poll asks about a law requiring background checks for all gun buyers.
Almost every single Democrat polled – 98 percent – supported such a measure, and a whopping 90 percent of typically pro-gun Republicans did as well.
Similar bipartisan support was found to exist for a law that would prohibit people with mental illness.
It’s unclear if the implementation of these broadly-supported background check and mental health screening laws would have helped to prevent the UCC massacre. Police have recovered 13 weapons related to the crime, Celine Nunez of the ATF’s Seattle Field Division told reporters. Six were recovered at the school and seven were at the shooter's residence, but not all of them were purchased by the gunman.
Obama pointed out in his speech that while far more American die from gun violence every year than terrorist attacks, there is only extensive federal policy and funding to fight terrorism.
“We spent over a trillion dollars, and passed countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so," Obama said. "And yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”