Gun control, the ever-present US problem that’s rarely discussed in campaigns

By Patricia de Arce

Washington, Nov 1 (EFE).- The debate over gun control in the United States always intensifies after a massacre, as occurred after the Uvalde, Texas, killings last May. But a week before the midterm elections, very few candidates are talking about the issue in their campaigns, having decided that now is not the time.

It’s surprising what’s happening during the year of the largest school massacre in a decade – 19 students and two teachers killed – although it’s not surprising in a country where gun ownership is a constitutional right and where since January there have been 16,921 murders and 20,064 suicides by firearm, according to The Gun Violence Archive.

The surveys are clear: Just 1 percent of voters cite gun violence as a problem at this time, according to polls carried out by The New York Times and Gallup.

Is it that US society only reacts when there’s a massacre?

That’s exactly right, Andy Parker told EFE. People think about it when it happens but then later the event is dropped from the news cycle and people never think it will happen to them, until it does, until it happens to someone they love.

Parker’s daughter, Alison Parker, a reporter in Roanoke, Virginia, was murdered on live television beside cameraman Adam Ward, with whom she was working.

Andy Parker tried to become a candidate in his district, although he did not make it through the primary, and now he helps collect funds for Democratic candidates committed to gun control.

Even so, it’s very difficult to broach the problem in a country that has “more guns than people.”

In Virginia, gun shows are commonplace, like the one held in Fredericksburg, 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Washington, on the Oct. 22-23 weekend.

At the huge venue there were lines of potential customers at the tables loaded with pistols, revolvers, hunting and assault rifles. Most of the guns on display were securely fastened to the tables to prevent theft but they had enough safety cord attached to them so that people could handle them and see how they felt.

And there were all sorts of accessories available at the gun show, too, including various types of ammunition and holsters, as well as patches and stickers for the Trumpist MAGA movement bearing messages defending gun ownership and use.

At the edge of the gun show area, Virginia state police were offering to do a background check on anyone wanting to purchase a weapon at a cost of just $2.00. And there were several tables where legal advice involving guns was being given and organizations were advising people how to legally defend themselves if they found themselves confronted by someone with a gun.

One of those organizations was the Virginia Citizens Defense League. In a telephone conversation with EFE, the group’s president, Philip Van Cleave, said that there should be no gun control at all and accused the Democratic administration of Joe Biden of “not guaranteeing” the “birthright” of Americans to “defend themselves.”

According to Van Cleave, the majority of criminals don’t buy their guns at gun stores, but rather on the black market. In addition, he said he was against background checks, adding that criminals falsify them or use people who can pass a background check to purchase weaponry for them.

For many gun lovers, among whom are many Republican candidates, the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution – which guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms” – is “sacred.”

That is how Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey describes it in a video she recorded last spring in which she showed that in her purse she carries her cellphone and her lipstick, but also her revolver.

Her Democratic rival, Yolanda Flowers, told EFE that the governor does not behave like a “leader.” Among the planks of her campaign platform, Flowers includes increasing from 18 to 21 the legal age to buy weapons and improving background checks for gun buyers.

Flowers said she does not question the validity of the 2nd Amendment, just like the majority of Democratic candidates, who are aware that taking a position against the constitutional right could lose them votes.

On the Republican side, it’s the more conservative candidates who want to talk about gun control, a sign of the polarization prevailing in the US, according to Democratic former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, now an adviser to the Giffords Law Center.

Related Articles

Back to top button