Gun control unite Democrats?

El Paso and Dayton mass shootings have sparked gun control debate

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Will gun control unite the Democrats?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

In the aftermath of America's latest mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, politicians are looking for answers to make sure yet another massacre by guns never happens again.

Democrats have called for "common sense" gun laws, such as universal background checks and a ban on automatic weapons.

The party is talking about gun control with "newfound urgency" according to some.

However, others warn that the issue could backfire on the Democrats.

The Claim

According to Vice's Cameron Joseph, the Democrats have never been more united on gun control.

He says that in 2008 and 2012, Democrats barely talked about guns; and in 2016, it was a minor issue.

Joseph argues: "Now it’s at the centre of the national discussion — and Democrats are talking about the issue with newfound urgency."

He notes there is wide support for background checks from the party. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the first major gun control legislation in a generation earlier this year.

The bill proposes a closure of loopholes to create a universal background check system for gun sales.

It is currently languishing in the GOP-controlled Senate. It was supported by 232 of the 234 House Democrats before it moved to the upper chamber.

Joseph writes: "Now, Republicans are the ones divided and scrambling with how to deal with the issue.

"And after a few weeks of tension and infighting within primary, Democrats are unified around an issue with growing support from Americans."

The Counterclaim

However, W. James Antle III says that gun control might "backfire" on the Democrats.

In an article for The Week, he predicts that gun controllers, such as the Democrats, will gain the upper hand, but the pendulum will swing back into the other direction when the "common sense" gun laws do not work - or the gun controllers overreach.

He argues: "Republicans were once on the defensive about the assault weapons ban, for instance, but the politics changed to the extent that the law was allowed to lapse largely without incident.

"The demographics of gun ownership could also change to include more Democratic voters — it is already rising among African Americans."

Antle adds: "Even Bernie Sanders has to listen to his gun-owning constituents."

The Facts

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton last week increased the tally to 251 mass shootings in the US in 216 days.

In other words, there have been more shootings in 2019 than there have been days in the year.

Analysis by the Washington Post found that mass shootings, that kill four or more people, happen every 47 days since June 2015. In the 1990s, these attacks happened just twice a year, on average.

A gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on the morning of Sunday, August 3 and opened fire. He killed 20 people immediately, while another two succumbed to their injuries on Monday. There were dozens left injured after the attack.

The suspect has been identified as Patrick Crusius, 21, who was taken into custody, and he has been formally charged with murder.

And 13 hours later, in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman wearing body armour and wielding an AK-47-style assault rifle, opened fire in downtown Dayton. He killed nine people and injure 27 others, before he was shot and killed by an officer.

The shooter has been identified by police as Connor Stephen Betts, 24, and he reportedly used a legally obtained .223-caliber rifle with two drum magazines that had 100 rounds of ammunition combined.

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