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FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 29, 2021

Pair of mass shootings rekindle familiar U.S. debate over new federal gun regulations

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Read gun policy news coverage. Choose a vivid quote or one reflecting your view.
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Now pick a forceful sentence or paragraph in an opinion column about firearms. Which words make it strong?
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Share a reader comment on this topic from a letter or article response.

After America's second deadly mass shooting in less than a week, a familiar reaction unfolds again: Gun-control advocates urge state and federal lawmakers to act, while opponents of most proposed firearms regulations push back. The two crimes occurred in Boulder, Colo., where a gunman killed 10 people in a supermarket last week before police arrested him, and days earlier in the Atlanta area, where an armed attacker killed eight people at three massage businesses. These were the latest random shootings with multiple victims during recent decades, yet no major federal gun-control measure has passed in more than 20 years.

Though law enforcers, public policy experts and others cite varied factors behind gun violence – mental health, economic gaps, racial and social divisions – the most significant is the availability of firearms. Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population, but own 42 percent of the world's guns. So there's renewed pressure to ban assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips, to require gun purchase waiting periods nationwide, and to shut a background check loophole that allows gun show sales without confirming the buyer is eligible. The president and Democrats on Capitol Hill call for fast action on stricter gun laws, drawing immediate resistance by Republicans -- despite polls showing a majority of voters back some steps.

President Biden last week urged the Senate to ban assault weapons and close background check loopholes because those "common sense steps will save lives in the future. . . . This is not and should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue. We have to act." Polling shows wide support for tighter gun laws and specific policies like a ban on assault weapons, yet Republican leaders argue again that gun violence should be addressed through steps like more policing rather than limiting gun ownership rights. "Every time there's a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater . . . [and discuss] a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders," Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said last week. Another Republican, Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, said gun-control backers want to "abolish our rights."

Ex-president says: "We can overcome opposition by cowardly politicians and the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to assemble an arsenal. We can, and we must. A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country." – Barack Obama, March 23 statement

Republican senator says: "What happens … after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens, because that’s their political agenda." – Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas

Newspaper reader says: "Tell Congress it's time to step up for all of us and all those lost to gun violence." --Patricia Roth of Everett, Wash., in New York Times letter

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2021

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