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There were three mass shootings this weekend. Ten people were killed by a gunman at a dance studio in California. Twelve people were shot at a Louisiana nightclub and eight people were shot at a home in Louisiana.
Such events happen with tragic regularity in the United States. People — including our elected leaders — will express sorrow and outrage. Some will call for stricter limits on guns.
Then, we’ll mostly return to our daily lives until the next massacre and we’ll repeat the cycle of sadness, condemnation and little concrete action.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If Americans want further changes in the country’s gun laws — and survey after survey says they do — we need to hold politicians accountable for voting against sensible gun laws and for taking other actions that prioritize gun rights over the safety of Americans who are simply living their lives.
To be fair, Congress last year did pass several modest changes to federal gun laws, including tougher background checks for young gun buyers and help for states to implement “red flag” laws, which enable the removal of guns from people determined to be dangerous to themselves or others. The collaborative, and productive, nature of those negotiations should be a model for further legislation, as more comprehensive action is clearly needed.
In the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park, California, a gunman killed 10 people and injured another 10 at a ballroom during lunar new year celebrations Saturday night. The alleged gunman, who at 72 was the nation’s oldest public mass shooter, was found dead in his van from a self-inflicted gunshot, according to police. He had been disarmed by two bystanders at another ballroom, where witnesses said he may have been looking for more victims to shoot, early Sunday morning before fleeing.
At the Dior Bar & Lounge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a fight broke out between two groups of customers and several people took out guns and began firing shots early Sunday morning. Twelve people were injured, three of them with life-threatening injuries, according to police.
Police described a Sunday afternoon shooting at a home in Shreveport that left three adults and a 3-year-old child in critical condition as a “drive by.”
As we consider these tragic incidents and how to stop them in the future, the Los Angeles Times editorial board put it well:
“No single answer covers all mass killings. Past perpetrators have included the psychotic, domestic abusers, bigots, conspiracy theorists, holders of personal grudges and international terrorists. They are sometimes young, sometimes in their prime, sometimes elderly. They do their cruel, murderous work at dance halls, elementary schools, universities, movie theaters, concerts, grocery stores, houses of worship, parades,” the editors wrote.
“There is no common profile of the killers, but they have one thing in common: They have guns.”
Yes, we realize the Second Amendment protects Americans’ right to own a gun, or many guns. But that right, like another other right in the Constitution, is not unlimited, as the Supreme Court ruled in the Heller case, which clarified an individual’s right to own a firearm.
“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” then-Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court’s majority in 2008. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
As we saw last year, after 19 children and two teachers were murdered by a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, changes to America’s gun laws are possible. It shouldn’t take more bloodshed and mourning to protect the rights of Americans who want to be free from our deadly scourge of gun violence.