Eleven years after James Holmes opened fire inside an Aurora movie theater — changing everything in Aurora — the only change outside of the city is a stunning and disheartening increase in mass shootings.
The nation’s gun-death crisis is undeniable. As of July 18, there have been 392 mass shootings in the United States, defined as a single shooting killing or injuring four or more people. Almost 11, 000 Americans have been murdered so far this year by gunfire. Gunfire deaths is the leading cause of death among American children. Those numbers from the Gun Violence Archive, providing consistent and verifiable statistics.
It isn’t that the United States is incapable of ending not just rampant mass murders. We have refused to limit the power and abundance of American firearms. We permit virtually anyone older than 18, not yet old enough to drink beer, to obtain weapons designed for use in war or policing, engineered to efficiently and rapidly kill other human beings.
Colorado, long a leader in gun-control, has stepped up again this year to strengthen its so-called Red Flag Law and raise the minimum age of gun purchases to 21.
This year, finally, state lawmakers made it easier to bring lawsuits against the makers of guns the same way states can sue cigarette makers and prescription drug makers for their greedy incompetence. Critics of the measure say such laws unfairly target the makers of “innocuous” substances that only harm people when abused. The “guns-don’t-kill-people-do” bumper sticker mentality is what’s driven the nation to ghastly levels of gun violence. People with guns murder and wound other people with or without guns thousands upon thousands of times each year.
Gun-rights extremist groups continue to fight these state laws and reforms.
Congress and state governments have even refused to require gun owners to prove their ability to safely wield and store a weapon so deadly it can kill dozens or even hundreds of people in minutes, yet we require extensive licenses to drive a car and even cut hair.
We refuse to limit how many semi-automatic firearms a gunman can own, yet we limit cats to five per household.
Polling consistently shows that two-thirds of all Americans want stricter gun control laws, including meaningful universal background checks.
A stunning one-third of all Americans now believe all handguns should be banned, except for those used by police, more than one poll show, including polls maintained by Gallup.
More than 80% of gun owners believe all gun purchases in the United States should be subject to background checks, steady polling reveals. And almost 60% of Americans say the need for reducing gun violence by implementing gun controls outweighs the need to ensure gun rights.
With so much overwhelming need and desire to control guns and gun deaths, it’s appalling that 11 years have passed since the Aurora theater shooting and such little meaningful progress has been made.
Guns are an approximately $28 billion-a-year industry, several sources estimate. Gun-rights groups outspend gun-control groups 6 to 1 in lobbying members of Congress and state lawmakers, by as much as $16 million in 2021.
It’s not just money. Gun-rights play heavily into partisan primary races. For Republicans, that means that the most extreme voters often call the shots in primary races, ensuring gun-rights interests are backed by acquiescent winning candidates.
In efforts to stay elected in swing congressional and legislative districts, many Democrats shy away from gun-control issues just to keep their positions.
Despite the consistent and growing desire for gun control, elected leaders in Congress won’t deliver it, and voters won’t make them.
Eleven years have now gone by after the Aurora theater shooting and, soon, the Sandy Hook elementary school cataclysm.
That has been long enough to prove, without a doubt, mass shootings and rampant gun violence will continue for the next decade, unless voters choose legislative and congressional candidates who will make gun control happen instead of rationalizing why it won’t.