国际英语新闻:Yearender:Americansfacingmassshootingmilestonein2019withnoprogressinguncontrol

HOUSTON/WASHINGTON,Dec.22(Xinhua)--Asthefinaldaysoftheyearapproach,Americansarefacingagrimmilestone--therehavealreadybeenmoremassshootingsin2019thantherearedaysintheentireyear.

AsofSunday,therehavebeen404casesofmassshootingintheUnitedStates,accordingtotheGunViolenceArchive(GVA),anoNPRofitcorporationthattracksgunviolenceacrossthecountry.Thisisthehighestnumbersincetheorganizationstartedcollectingdatain2013.

TheGVAdefinesamassshootingasanyincidentthatresultsinfourormorepeoplebeingshot,notincludingtheshooter.

DEADLYYEAR

AccordingtotheGVA,14,801peoplewerekilledand28,613peopleinjuredbygunsacrosstheUnitedStatesasofDec.22,excludingsuicide.

Itseemsthathardlyadaygoesbywherethere'snotamassshootingsomewhereinthecountry.Butinreality,it'susuallyjustafewdaysthattypicallypassbeforethenextmassshooting.Americanshavebeendulledbywhatwasonceshockingnews.

"Mypersonalbeliefisthatwearebecominghardenedbytheviolenceandcallouspatterinmassmedia,"saidGailMcConnell,whoworkedasaprosecutorfor25yearsinTexasbeforeretiring.

"Thecontinualhypeinanyandeveryevent,thecallousdisregardforlifeinTVshows,movies,andvideogamesandtheincreasingisolationallowedbycellphonetechnology.Andthefeelingofentitlement,"McConnelladded.

ResidentsofthestatesacrosstheWestseemtobemorecomfortablewithaso-called"gunculture."

InthesouthernstateofTexas,generallyconsideredagun-friendlystate,itscitizenslooksuspiciouslyonguncontrollawsoranyattemptperceivedasamovetoimpingeupontheconstitutionalrighttobeararms.

Inthestate'sMontgomeryCounty,officialshavedeclaredthecountya"gunsanctuary"county.

Countycommissionersvoted5-0duringtheirNov.19sessioninfavorofaresolutionthatwill"maintaincitizens'abilitytokeepandbeararmswithoutthethreatofadverselegalramifications."

Withtheunanimouspassageoftheresolution,MontgomeryCounty,withapopulationof570,000people,becamethemostpopulouscountyinTexastobecomeagunsanctuary,accordingtocountyofficials.

Acrossthecountry,therearemorethan200countiesand11citiesthathavedeclaredthemselvesasgunsanctuaries,officialssaid.

HATECRIME

Thedeadliestshootingsofarin2019wasintheU.S.-MexicobordertownofElPaso,where22peoplewerekilledand24otherswoundedinaWalmartshootingrampageinearlyAugust.Thecasewasbeingprosecutedasahatecrime.

Theshooterpostedananti-immigrantdiatribeonananonymousextremistmessageboard,citingtheChristchurch,NewZealand,mosqueshooterwholeft51deadinMarchasaninspiration.

InApril,amanwhoopenedfireataSanDiegosynagoguealsopostedanoteonlinethatwasalmostidenticaltoonewrittenbytheChristchurchmassmurderer.

Thenote--fullofanti-Semiticlanguageandlaudingwhitesupremacy--namedtheChristchurchkillerandthemanaccusedoffatallyshooting11peopleinsideaPittsburghsynagogueinOctoberof2018asinspirationsfortheattack.

Describingthelocalpeople'sreactiontowardstheElPasoshooting,WilliamG.Weaver,politicalsciencedepartmentco-founderanddirectorattheUniversityofTexasatElPaso,saidpeoplewere"dismayed,sad,somber,andindisbelief"thatthemassacrehappenedintheremoteandsafecity.

"Theideathatapersonwouldtravel600miles(960km)tokillElPasoansiswhatputthecityinshock.TheideathatapersonwouldcarryhatredsuchadistancetoslaughterpeopleinacitybecauseitisoverwhelminglyMexican-Americanisincomprehensibletothecitizensinourisolatedandinsularcity,"hecontinued.

ScholarsarguethatsuchhatecrimeisnotanewphenomenonintheU.S.history.However,theynotedthatthereisagrowingnumberofmassshootingsthatinvolvehateandhatebiasinrecentyears.

JonR.Taylor,politicalscienceprofessoranddepartmentchairattheUniversityofTexasatSanAntonio,believedthesocialandpoliticalreasonsforhatecrimesvary,"fromfar-rightpoliticalandracialistextremismtoreligiousextremismandbiastoethnicprejudicetoanti-LGBTQbias."

HisviewwasechoedbyPeterJ.Li,associateprofessorofEastAsianpoliticsatUniversityofHouston-Downtown.AccordingtoLi,thenumberofhatecrimehasincreasedsince2016generalelection.

However,Taylorsawtheproblemwithmorecomplicatedroots.HealsopointedoutthatthereisonlyaverysmallsegmentofU.S.societythatappearsmoresusceptibletoextremistrhetoricandactsoutonit.Althoughit'sdifficulttocompletelystopit,publicvigilanceandeducationcanreallyhelptomitigateit.

NOPROGRESS

Thenearlydailydrumbeatofnewsreportsdetailingshootingshavestokedemotionalandheateddebatesonhowtoendthecarnage--fromenactingstrictergunlawstobanningcertaintypesofweapons.However,littleprogresshasbeenmadeinthelegislationconcerningguncontrol.

"Thereisafairlysimplepoliticalplayatworkhere.Senatemajorityleader(Mitch)McConnellwillnotschedulevotesonguncontrolproposalsunlesstheWhiteHouseiswillingtosaythePresidentcouldendorsethem,"saidClayRamsay,aresearcherattheUniversityofMaryland.

"Wheneverhorrificeventsdrivetheissueforward,theWhiteHousestirsthepotonvariouspartialguncontrolideas.Whentheissuehaslessattention,theWhiteHousewithdraws,"Ramsayadded.

AttorneyGeneralWilliamBarrsaidinNovemberthatthateffortsinWashingtontopassgunlegislationinthewakeofaspateofdeadlymassshootingsthepastsummerhavebeenderailedbecauseoftheimpeachmentproceedingsinCongress.

"RightnowitdoesnotappearthatthingsinWashingtonareamenabletothosekindsofnegotiationsandcompromises,"BarrsaidataneventinMemphis,Tennessee."Unfortunately,ourdiscussionsonthelegislativeaspectsofthishavebeensidetrackedbecauseoftheimpeachmentprocessontheHill,andsowearegoingforwardwithalltheoperationalstepsthatwecantakethatdonotrequirelegislativeaction."

PresidentDonaldTrumpandotherRepublicanshavepointedtoguncontrolasoneofthekeyissueswherelegislationmighthavebeenenactedifDemocratsweren'tpursuingTrump'simpeachment.

Chiefexecutivesofsomeofthebest-knowncompaniesintheUnitedStatesonSept.12urgedCongressinalettertoactongunviolence.Thelettercameseveralweeksaftertwomassshootings,whichoccurredhoursapartinElPaso,Texas,andDayton,Ohio,took32livesinAugust.

"DoingnothingaboutAmerica'sgunviolencecrisisissimplyunacceptableanditistimetostandwiththeAmericanpublicongunsafety,",includingAirbnb,Twitter,andUber.

Specifically,theywereaskingtheSenatetopassabillto"requirebackgroundchecksonallgunsales"andastronglawthat"wouldallowcourtstoissuelife-savingextremeriskprotectionorders."

"TherearestepsCongresscan,andmust,taketopreventandreducegunviolence,"readtheletter."Weneedourlawmakerstosupportcommon-sensegunlawsthatcouldpreventtragedieslikethese."

WHAT'SNEXT?

GunviolencecoststheUnitedStates229billionU.S.dollarsannually,amountingto1.4percentofthecountry'sgrossdomesticproduct,accordingtoanewly-releasedstudycommissionedbycongressionalDemocrats.

AccordingtoTaylor,thereareseveralthingsthatcouldbedonerightnowtoreducegunviolenceandstillworkwithintheU.S.Constitution'sSecondAmendmentprotectionsofgunownershiprights.

"Thefirstwouldbeso-called'RedFlag'lawsthatpreventthementallyillandconvictedviolentfelonsfromowningorpurchasingguns.Whileitwon'tstopallillegalownershiporpurchases,it'sastart."hesaid.

Tayloralsosupportsmandatorybackgroundchecksforallprivategunpurchasesandbanningassault-typeweaponsandpersonalownershipofbumpstocksforthesetypesofweapons.

RepublicanSenatorLindseyGrahamandDemocraticSenatorRichardBlumenthalareworkingona"red-flag"bill,whichwouldpermitgunstoberemovedfrompeoplewhoactasiftheyareconsideringconductinganattackorhaveknownmental-healthproblems.TheWhiteHousehasnotgotbehindanymeasurepresented,saidtheUniversityofMarylandresearcherClayRamsay.

Lookingintothefuture,bothTaylorandLipredictedthereisnoquickfixtothegunviolenceproblem.ThecontinualpatternsofshootingsintheUnitedStateshavecreatedahighdegreeofentrenchedpoliticalpolarizationbetweentheRepublicansandDemocrats.

InviewofthefactthatU.S.CongressisdividedwiththeDemocratscontrollingtheHouseofRepresentativesandtheRepublicansholdingthemajorityintheSenate,thereislittlechanceofalegislativebreakthroughingunlegislation,saidexperts.

Withgeneralelectioncomingin2020,expertexpectednopositivechangeintermsofgunviolence.

"Iwouldputthechancesverylow-perhaps1in12,"saidRamsay,referringtothepossibilityofpassinganygun-relatedlegislationintheupcomingelectionyear.

"Thereisarealneedtoengageinaninformed,value-baseddiscussionongunuseandownershipintheU.S.Sadly,thatisn'tgoingtohappeninanelectionyearandlikelywon'thappenafterthepresidentialelection,nomatterwhowinsbecausethetwopositionsaresopoliticizedthattheymakeitdifficulttoaddresstheproblemofgun-violenceintheU.S.,"commentedTaylor.

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