Last night we heard news of a public shooting at a mall in Paramus, New Jersey. Fortunately no bystanders were hurt, but the gunman apparently committed suicide.
Just four days earlier, the media was abuzz with the shooting of a TSA agent at LAX by a disgruntled “patriot.”
Neither of these fit the definition of a mass shooting, but by Halloween of this year, 121 people had already died in 26 mass killings around the country, according to data from USA Today.
In the last five years, there have been almost two mass shootings a month, according to a report from Mayors Against Gun Violence, a bipartisan group made up of over 1,000 mayors from across the country.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that between 2009 and 2012, 404 people were shot and 207 killed in these kinds of mass shootings. In the meantime, statistics show over 47,000 people were murdered in the US by firearms between 2006 and 2010, according to the FBI.
And according to figures from the World Health Organization and the Small Arms Survey, the U.S. has more firearm-related deaths per 100,000 people than France, Australia, Germany, Canada, Spain, Turkey, the UK and Japan combined.
When issues like this come up, we hear a lot about the need for gun control. But the nation hasn’t seen significant gun-control legislation passed since the Assault Weapon Ban in 1994, and even that timed out in 2004.
So, why all the hot air and no action?
The answer’s simple: money. Since 2000 the NRA, Gun Owners of America and other firearm lobbies have poured nearly $81 million into House, Senate and presidential races. Some $46 million of that came since 2010’s Citizen’s United Supreme Court Case.
What’s the impact of all that cash? Of the 46 senators who voted against an expansion of background checks on gun purchases, 43 of them had received some form of financial contribution from pro-gun groups.
The bottom line? After the next shooting you see, hear, read about, just think for a minute. When you’re wondering whether we’ll ever have sensible restrictions on gun purchases in this country, first take a look at who’s purchased your congressman.