Weeks after leaders from more than 220 companies, organizations and sports teams published an open letter calling on lawmakers to pass legislation to help curb gun violence in America, Senate bargainers have agreed on a bipartisan bill.
The new bill would tighten background checks for firearms buyers under age 21, mandate more sellers to execute background checks, as well as disburse about $15 billion in federal funding for mental health and school safety upgrades. And this more incremental package appears much more likely to pass the Senate than the wide-ranging gun control bill passed by House Democrats earlier in June, which had little GOP support, that would raise the age limit for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle and prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds.
The recent “CEOs for gun safety” letter and the new gun violence bills have emerged as the country has been reeling over multiple mass shootings, including the recent massacres in Texas, Oklahoma and Buffalo. The CEO letter asked senators to take “bold urgent action to address our gun violence epidemic.”
“In recent weeks our country has been forced to reckon with the killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the equally horrifying events at the Tops market in Buffalo, and the 14 additional mass shootings that took place in just the ten days between the two,” the letter said. “These shootings have destroyed families and communities, shaken our country and highlighted the lack of action from the U.S. Senate.”
The CEOs represent organizations that each employ more than 500 workers, and include Bumble
Dicks Sporting Goods
The letter was also signed by CEOs of some sports franchises, including the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.
“At a time when our economy is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence costs American taxpayers, employers and communities a staggering $280 billion per year,” the letter continued. “Employers lose $1.4 million every day in productivity and revenue, and costs associated with victims of gun violence. Communities that experience gun violence struggle to attract investment, create jobs, and see economic growth.”
“‘Gun violence costs American taxpayers, employers and communities a staggering $280 billion per year. Employers lose $1.4 million every day in productivity and revenue, and costs associated with victims of gun violence.’”
There have been at least 278 mass shootings through June 22 in the U.S. this year, averaging about 1.607 mass shootings per day, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks gun-related violence in the United States dating back to 2013. The Gun Violence Archive defines “mass shootings” as incidents in which at least four people are shot, not including the attacker. And 2021 was the worst year on record for mass shootings in the U.S., averaging about 1.896 mass shootings per day.
The letter from the CEOs doesn’t list any specific gun regulations, however, instead calling on the Senate to “take immediate action,” and asking lawmakers to “transcend partisanship and work together.”
Recent polling suggests this letter reflects the majority of public opinion at the moment. American support for controlling gun violence was recently at its highest point in a decade, according to a joint national poll by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist released on Thursday. The survey of more than 1,000 adults was taken following the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, and found that the proportion of U.S. adults who think it is more important to control gun violence (59%) is almost double the proportion of those who think it is more important to protect gun rights (35%.)
Those opinions are still disproportionately split across party lines, however. Most Democrats (92%) and a majority of independents (54%) consider controlling gun violence to be more important than protecting gun rights, according to the poll, compared with just 20% of Republicans who say the same. And only 36% of gun owners favor prioritizing the control of gun violence over protecting gun rights.
“Recent mass shootings have, again, put the debate about gun safety on the table for decision-makers,” noted Lee M. Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a statement. “One side calls for greater gun restrictions while the other believes it is a mental health issue. The findings say Americans want to address both.”
Earlier this month, the House passed a gun control bill that was voted on the same day that witnesses and families of the victims from both shootings gave emotional testimony during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the gun violence epidemic. Actor and Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey also visited the White House and met with President Joe Biden to call for gun reforms. And he echoed the sentiment that, “This time, it seems that something is different.”
But analysts say that gun-control bills continue to face a tough road in the 50-50 Senate. The House’s gun violence package appears doomed in the Senate. And the bipartisan Senate bill that seems much more likely to pass is missing the more potent proposals that Democrats have pushed for — but Republicans have voted against — such as banning assault-type weapons or requiring background checks for most gun sales.
What’s more, there is some data to suggest that while gun control support often rises in the immediate aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, it then drops off again. A Quinnipiac poll taken in February 2018, a few days after a mass shooting killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla., indicated that 66% of Americans supported stricter gun regulations, while just 31% said they were opposed. But only a few months later, gun control support dropped to 56%, and the opposed group increased to 39%, according to FiveThirtyEight.
A similar fade in support for stricter gun laws also happened in the wake of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Support for stricter gun control jumped to 58% following the elementary school massacre, Gallup reported, but dropped to 49% less than a year later.