by Avery Prudenti ‘22
As the pandemic continues, a widespread misconception persists that mass shooting numbers have decreased because of the quarantine precautions put in place. However, this is not true. Since just April 16, 2021, there have been an astounding 147 mass shootings in the United States.
The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as when four or more people have been shot or killed. The exact number is difficult to pin down, as there can be different definitions of exactly what can be qualified as a mass shooting. With this definition by the Gun Violence Archive, there were around 610 mass shootings in 2020. This proves that the pandemic did not positively affect the numbers of mass shootings, but may have instead negatively impacted it. Almost every year since 2013, mass shootings have increased, from 270 in 2014, all the way to 610 in 2020. Five months into 2021, it looks as though the number will increase once again.
Sadly, the majority of mass shootings no longer make national news; however, there have been a few that have impacted our collective consciousness. One of the more horrifying shootings occurred in Boulder, Colorado on March 22, 2021. A mass shooter entered King Soopers supermarket and killed 10 people, including a local on-duty police officer. The alleged shooter, Ahmad Al Aliki Allssa, was arrested after being shot in the right leg.
Even after all of these shootings, only 9 states have a ban on assault weapons. The lack of sensible gun laws may play a large part in the rise of mass shootings and now, more than ever, people are pushing for Congress to solve this problem. On March 11, the democrat-controlled House passed H.R. 8, a bipartisan-sponsored Background Checks Act. This act would extend required background checks to almost all gun transfers, including those between private parties. This is important because around 50 percent of all gun transfers are done without a background check through private transfers such as gun shows or internet sales. “Every day, in the licensed dealers where you have to get a background check, 170 felons are stopped from buying a gun, 50 domestic abusers every day are stopped from buying a gun,” according to Republican Mike Thompson, who introduced the bill. If this is through just the existing background check programs, then expanding these will only stop more felons and abusers.
Along with this new legislation, there is also another bill called the H.R. 1446, also known as the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021. This bill would extend “the time period the FBI has to determine whether a buyer is qualified to purchase a gun.” says Griffin Dix, a reporter from The Hill. This would prove to be beneficial because it will extend background checks from 3 to 10 days. This would close the “Charleston Loophole”, which was a flaw in the background check system that enabled known drug dealer, Dylann Roof, to purchase a handgun when he should have been barred simply because the background investigation took longer than the 3 day waiting period. This allowed him to kill nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. With this new legislation in place, people like Roof would not be able to access these dangerous weapons because the background checks would see them as unfit owners.
The H.R. 8 bill would need at least 60 votes in the Senate to be passed to the President to sign, which may seem difficult, but “…The Democrat majority in both chambers of Congress has paved the way for the passing of this bill in the House,” states Camila Barbelto. Many people may think that this bill will end up leading to nothing, but President Joe Biden has made it very clear that he is prioritizing gun control, which would mean getting these bills passed. Perhaps now will finally be the time where action is taken and bills can be passed to decrease the number of mass shootings that occur each year in the United States.