Unchecked gun violence reveals who we are as a nation

York Dispatch

History is full of horrific events in which we shake our heads and ask, "How did that happen? What were they thinking?"

The Holocaust and slavery are two prime examples.

It begs the question of what is transpiring today that will be regarded by future generations as deplorable. That historians will record with the hope that they will never be repeated.

Climate change, yes. And then there is gun violence.

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A tribute banner is displayed along with candles and flowers at Mac Dutra Park in a makeshift memorial to honor mass shooting victims in Half Moon Bay, California, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Seven adults were killed by one suspect at two different locations on Monday. (Ray Chavez/The Mercury News/TNS)

California has had three mass shootings in the last four days. Seven people were killed and one injured in Half Moon Bay on Monday. One person was killed and four injured at an East Oakland gas station later that evening. Eleven people were killed and nine injured in Monterey Park on Saturday.

We are not even at the end of the first month of 2023. Yet the Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay shootings bring the number of mass shootings (in which four or more people were killed or injured) to 39 this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That follows the 647 mass shootings recorded in 2022 and 690 mass shootings in 2021.

Those numbers demand action. But don't look to the Supreme Court for help. The court's June ruling in the New York concealed carry case is an indication that as bad as America's gun violence problem is, the high court is more likely to make it worse.

As for Congress, the NRA spends millions every year to retain its firm grip on lawmakers. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has received more funding from gun rights groups than any other politician since he was elected to Congress. All told, Cruz has raked in more than $400 million, which explains his position that gun control laws won't help and that we need to be spending more money to stop violent criminals.

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Yes, California has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation. As a result, the state's rate of firearm mortality (8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2020) is among the nation's lowest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is in contrast to the 13.7 gun deaths per 100,000 people nationally. Only six states, Connecticut (6), Hawaii (3.4), Massachusetts (3.7), New Jersey (5), New York (5.3) and Rhode Island (5.1) have a lower rate of firearm deaths. Mississippi (28.6) and Wyoming (25.9) have the highest rates.

All told, more Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2020 than in any other year on record, according to the CDC. That includes a record number of gun murders, as well as a near-record number of gun suicides.

Yet it's unlikely the California shootings will do anything to move the needle on reducing the amount of gun violence in either California or the United States.

Our collective response to the Sandy Hook, Uvalde and Columbine mass shootings makes that clear.

America is a nation that has for decades failed to address its gun violence problem and has no clear strategy for doing so in the future.

Shamefully, this is who we are.

— From the Mercury News & East Bay Times editorial boards (TNS).