The Biden administration renewed its call to ban semiautomatic weapons and expand national background checks in the wake of Saturday’s attack in Buffalo, as it has done time and again after mass shootings. While White House officials have taken some executive steps — such as appointing a permanent director to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — their legislative efforts have little chance of success.
At the state level, hopes for new gun control measures are even bleaker.
One by one, Republican-controlled state legislators have enacted laws to overturn existing gun regulations that restrict the purchase and carrying of firearms, while some states, such as Missouri, are challenging the federal government’s right to make any regulation on firearms at home. to lay.
The biggest threat to gun control looms on the horizon: In the next two months, the Supreme Court is expected to repeal all or part of a New York state law restricting the concealed possession of a gun without a special license, a case seen as a potential landmark decision that could invalidate dozens of similar laws in liberal-oriented states.
“The irritating thing is that we seem to be going backwards,” said James Densley, co-founder of the Violence Project, an impartial research center that collected the data used in the National Institute of Justice report.
While it’s difficult to make general generalizations, Mr. Densley and his partner, Jillian Peterson, discovered several patterns among gunmen in recent mass shootings. Many have clean records and can legally purchase weapons. When they are minors or young adults, they often receive weapons as gifts from their parents – or borrow or steal weapons from their home.
Many prefer long weapons, such as AR-15s and AK-47s. Semiautomatic rifles account for less than 1 percent of total shootings in the United States, they found — just 25 percent of mass shootings.
And many of those accused of these crimes, such as the suspect in the Buffalo shooting, view their murders as public execution, which makes them prone to covertly planning their attacks until they take action, hoping to draw attention to them. maximize spent. That makes them harder to detect, even in a state with relatively strict gun laws, like New York.