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Gun violence: can anything, anywhere stop the madness?

When it comes to gun control, the people have spoken. The problem is, no one in a position of power is bothering to listen. The public is staunchly in favor of restrictions that will in no way threaten Second Amendment rights.

But Congress refuses to move on measures to curb violence, even though 87 percent of Americans support background checks; another 81 percent believe gun purchase age limits should increase to 21; four out of five endorse a mental health check requirement and “red flag,” while 77 percent agree with a 30-day waiting period.

If this government was truly of the people, by the people and for the people, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate would not so casually ignore the will of the people.

A study published in January by a leading non-profit organization that focuses on gun violence prevention found there is a direct correlation in states with weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun deaths, including homicides, suicides and accidental killings.

The study by Everytown for Gun Safety determined that California had the strongest gun laws in the country. Hawaii topped the list with the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country, while Mississippi led the country with both the weakest gun laws and highest rate of gun deaths.

The findings of the study have come into sharp focus following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed. Officials told CNN the gunman legally purchased two assault rifles for his 18th birthday.

To compile its list, the group used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at each state’s rate of gun deaths in 2020 and compared those rates with 50 policies they say are scientifically proven to be effective in preventing gun violence, Nick Suplina, senior vice president of law and policy with Everytown for Gun Safety, said.

The CDC’s data includes homicides, accidental killings and suicides committed with guns. According to the CDC, over 45,000 people in the United States were killed with a firearm in 2020, more than half died by suicide.

The analysis, first reported by CNN, put California at the top of the list for gun law strength – a composite score of 84.5 out of 100, with a low rate of 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 residents, and below the national average of 13.6.

Hawaii has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country with the second strongest gun law score. It also has the lowest rate of gun ownership, with firearms in nine percent of households, the data shows.

Mississippi has the weakest gun laws with a score of 3 out of 100 and has a rate of 28.6 gun deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest of all states, the research shows.

Massachusetts has adopted 37 of the 50 policies and has the second-lowest rate of gun deaths, while Missouri has only eight of the gun safety policies and the fourth highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S. Louisiana and Wyoming are among the top five states with the highest gun deaths and the weakest gun safety laws.

Two-term Texas Governor Greg Abbott has pushed for the most easily-accessible powerful firearms distribution in the nation. Meanwhile, he blames the violence on mental illness while the killings mount. In Texas alone since 2015: Allen (8); Uvalde (21); El Paso (23); Sutherland Springs (26); Santa Fe (10); Midland (7), and Dallas (5).

So, make no mistake. The rhetoric will continue because no one in power cares enough for change. And as the rhetoric goes on, unfortunately so will the carnage.

Vernon A. Williams
Vernon A. Williams

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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