Incapable of Reform to the End

A majority in the U.S are in favor of stricter gun control laws. As in the cases of climate and health policy, their wish has not become reality.

The murder of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, should be a turning point in the U.S. debate about national security, gun violence and gun control. Just like the murder of 20 students and six teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School almost 10 years ago should have been a turning point. Or the Columbine High School massacre, when 12 students and a teacher were killed, almost 23 years ago.

Or any one of the hundreds of mass shootings that have occurred since then in almost every part of the U.S. again and again. Some 45,000 people die in the U.S. every year through gun violence. But this unfathomable succession of tragedies, of lives destroyed and grieving families, has long been part of everyday life in U.S. politics.

In 2018, after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, it seemed as if the movement of young people initiating protests in the entire U.S. for better gun control laws, bringing hundreds of thousands to the streets, might make a difference. But the same thing happened again — nothing.

The Lobby for Firearm Manufacturers Is Better Organized

For many years, the majority of the population has been for stricter gun control laws. But this majority among the public does not translate into a majority in Congress. The lobby for firearm manufacturers is always better organized than the lobby for victims of gun violence. It hurts to follow how the American political system is incapable of passing the most obvious legislation.

The fact that this incapacity for reform applies not just to the case of firearms but also to other key issues like climate policy, health care or education doesn’t bring much comfort. On the contrary, the fact that the U.S. political system is not fit to produce rational results in the interest of the majority is frustrating to those who lend their support to the American system and weakens the reputation of democracies around the world.

Right-Wing Conservative Libertarian Ideology

This is dangerous, but it is not natural. Rather, it springs from the power of that dreadful right-wing conservative libertarian ideology that screams for “freedom!” when it comes to wanting to own guns or refusing to wear masks but calls for a “ban!” when talking about the right to a safe abortion for women, an ideology that sees the need to punish drug users harshly but leaves support for housing and health care to capitalism.

This destroys the idea of the common good, which allows democracies to function. And as long as that doesn’t change, there will be new place names that stand for sheer horror from one day to the next, again and again.

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