What will it take to prevent mass shootings?

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Gun protestors roughly a mile away near the site of the massacre in Dayton, Ohio. Photo source: Youtube screenshot

Will mass shootings become part of America’s background noise?

That’s an ugly prospect raised by the deaths of 34 people this week in Texas, Ohio and California. So, why are such atrocities on the rise?

President Trump and others blame video games and mental illness, but evidence shows otherwise. In fact, it appears there’s reason behind the madness. UCLA constitutional law professor Adam Winkler says, “I think that they are designed to create terror and to spread terror.”

There is, “A clear white, nationalist, terrorist ideology,” according to James Palmer of Foreign Policy. “Recruitment and radicalization of these young men is carried out through the Internet.” Beyond that,”When we see language like invasion being used by the President, being used by Fox News, this is the language that fuels the false and racist conspracy theories on which terrorism draws.”

Whatever the motive of mass shooters might be, it’s America’s gun culture that gives them the means to carry out their intentions. In the aftermath of the latest incidents, background checks, gun buybacks and red flags are proposed by Democratic candidates to run against Trump in next year’s elections.

All could be effective in different ways, but Winkler says that’s where political reality sets in: “Four hundred million. That’s the number of firearms in civilian circulation in America today, and any gun law that you adopt runs headlong into that number.”

Vanderbilt Professor Jonathan Metzl has a cautionary note about gun control. “A lot of fear for people on the right is that all of a sudden what happens at moments like this is that every gun owner is all of a sudden quoted as being a ‘mass shooter.’ It’s important to create some context about just what guns mean in their communities.”

Credits

Guests:
Adam Winkler - professor of law at UCLA, and author of "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America" - @adamwinkler, James Palmer - Senior editor at Foreign Policy, his recent article was titled: “How Does Online Racism Spawn Mass Shooters?” - @BeijingPalmer, Jonathan Metzl - Vanderbilt University, Margaret Sullivan - Washington Post

Host:
Warren Olney

Producer:
Andrea Brody