The political standstill on US gun control

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So many questions are being asked in the wake of two mass shootings this month. And so many of them don’t have answers, including the most profound one: At least 31 people are dead; how can this have happened?

But there are some questions that can be answered. If you are like many people I know, the question you are asking right now – and probably after the many mass shootings that preceded Buffalo and Uvalde – is why won’t Congress pass gun control legislation when a majority of the public wants it?

I interviewed political scientists Monika McDermott and David Jones, who study public opinion and Congress, respectively, to get the answer. Turns out there are a few reasons, all of which interact with each other. Among them: Members of the House and Senate are sent there by voters in their district or state. They’re not elected by the nationwide selection of people who answer pollsters’ questions about gun control. And in each district, there’s more or less support for policies that restrict gun ownership. “Local lawmakers are not necessarily focused on national polling numbers,” says Jones.

And for a greater understanding of what role the firearms industry has played in shifting the focus of America’s gun culture from hunting and sport to self-defense, Boston University public health researcher Michael Siegel takes a hard, data-driven look at the makers of guns.

Also today:

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

The front page of the local newspaper in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, 2022. Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

Why gun control laws don’t pass Congress, despite majority public support and repeated outrage over mass shootings

Monika L. McDermott, Fordham University; David R. Jones, Baruch College, CUNY

The nature of elected office combines with the lasting priorities of public opinion to put gun control on the back burner, even in times when it does get massive public attention.

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