Gun violence in America — searching for answers

How do we move forward?

Two more mass shootings. Senseless killings in Chicago. More heartache and funerals.

Newspapers from around the nation offer their opinions. Here are some excerpts:

Wall Street Journal

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend are horrifying assaults on peaceful communities by disturbed young men. American politics will try to simplify these events into a debate about guns or political rhetoric, but the common theme of these killings is the social alienation of young men that will be harder to address.

New York Times

If one of the perpetrators of this weekend’s two mass shootings had adhered to the ideology of radical Islam, the resources of the American government and its international allies would mobilize without delay. The awesome power of the state would work tirelessly to deny future terrorists access to weaponry, money and forums to spread their ideology. … No American would settle for “thoughts and prayers” as a counterterrorism strategy. … There can be no middle ground when it comes to white nationalism and the terrorism it inspires. You’re either for it or against it.

The Los Angeles Times

The nation knows what the problem is, and while mental illness may be a part of it, it’s only one part. Mentally ill people without access to firearms, particularly guns that can kill scores of people in seconds, tend not to commit massacres on a large scale. Neither, for that matter, do sane people without access to guns. Too many people have too easy access to too many firearms; that is our problem. As is a political system that is in the thrall of the gun lobby and abjectly refuses to respond in a sensible, pro-active manner to preserve the safety of people as they go about their everyday lives, be it attending a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., shopping in El Paso, or having a late-night drink with friends on a hot summer night in the heart of Ohio.

Chicago Tribune

An angry person with access to weapons represents a particular type of danger in the United States. In El Paso and Pittsburgh. In a Texas church and another in South Carolina. In a Florida school and a Florida nightclub. And on the streets of Chicago. There will always be guns in America, legal and otherwise. It is part of the culture of this country. But what, if anything, can be done to deal with the anger? It’s a troubling question in part because it’s so immense. Yet it’s undeniable. There is a streak of madness of America causing the country great harm. In El Paso, in Dayton, and in Chicago.

The Washington Post

The president’s apparent first instinct to tighten federal background checks was right. All firearms sales and transfers should be subject to checks — not just some, as is currently the case. The loophole that allowed the Charleston, S.C., church shooter to obtain weapons should be closed. And high-capacity magazines such as those used in this past weekend’s mass shootings, which allow shooters to mow down victims without breaking to reload, should be banned.

USA Today

Ultimately, it is the nexus of deranged individuals (typically alienated young men) and America’s love affair with guns that lies at the heart of this crisis. The United States is no more violent, racially divided or mentally ill than other nations. It simply has more guns. Less than 5% of the world’s population owns 42% of the firearms.

No, new laws won’t stop all mass shootings. But commonsense restrictions, such as universal background checks and bans on easy access to weapons of war, can make these massacres less likely and less lethal.

If limits are not set, this truly American killing phenomenon, and the rituals of grief in communities across the nation, will simply continue. To not even try is sinful.

New York Post

“Guns don’t kill people, people do,” says the cliché. But the twisted and the evil can kill a lot more people when handed a murder machine. Our Founding Fathers gave us the right to bear arms in a time of muskets. They did not foresee a time when one 21-year-old could kill 20 people in the span of minutes thanks to poisonous beliefs and an assault weapon. It does not have to be this way. It should not have to be this way. Mr. President, do something — help America live without fear.

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