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May 28, 2022, 1:57 p.m. EDT

School shootings could be prevented—3 essential reads on why we’ve suffered 137 of them just this year

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By Matt Williams

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<STRONG>Read more: <INTERNET LOCATION="EXTERNAL" URL="https://theconversation.com/most-school-shooters-get-their-guns-from-home-and-during-the-pandemic-the-number-of-firearms-in-households-with-teenagers-went-up-172951">Most school shooters get their guns from home—and during the pandemic, the number of firearms in households with teenagers went up</INTERNET></STRONG>

3. Why popular support for gun control isn’t enough

In response to the killings in Texas, calls for stronger gun control laws are already being made, including by President Joe Biden in his speech the night of the shooting. But as evidenced by the lack of meaningful political action after the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 children and six school staff members were killed, the chances of getting anything through Congress appear slim.

This is despite polling that shows that a majority of Americans actually support stronger gun laws such as a ban on assault weapons.

So why doesn’t the government do what the people want? Harry Wilson, a professor of public affairs at Roanoke College, has  a three- part answer .

First, the United States is not a direct democracy and, as such, citizens do not make decisions themselves, Wilson writes. Instead, the power to make laws lies in the hands of their elected representatives in Congress. But “the composition and rules of Congress are also crucial, especially in the Senate,” he writes, “where each state has two votes. This allocation of senators disproportionately represents the interests of less populous states.”

Secondly, “polling and public opinion are not as straightforward as they seem. Focusing on only one or two poll questions can distort the public’s views regarding gun control,” says Wilson.

And finally, the influence of voters and interest groups acts as a counterbalance to popular opinion.

“Gun owners are more likely than nonowners to vote based on the issue of gun control, to have contacted an elected official about gun rights, and to have contributed money to an organization that takes a position on gun control,” writes Wilson.

Meanwhile lobbying groups representing huge membership, like the NRA, put further pressure on elected representatives. “Elected officials want votes. There is no doubt that money is essential for political campaigns, but votes, not money or polls, are what determine elections. If a group can supply votes, then it has power,” writes Wilson.

<STRONG>Read more: <INTERNET LOCATION="EXTERNAL" URL="https://theconversation.com/if-polls-say-people-want-gun-control-why-doesnt-congress-just-pass-it-92569">If polls say people want gun control, why doesn’t Congress just pass it?</INTERNET></STRONG>

Matt Williams is breaking news editor at The Conversation. This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives written by Harry L. Wilson, a professor of public affairs at Roanoke College; James Densley, professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University; Jillian Peterson, professor of criminal justice at Hamline University; Mark A. Zimmerman, professor of public health at the University of Michigan; Patrick Carter, co-director of the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan; and Rebeccah Sokol, assistant professor of social work at Wayne State University.

This article was originally published by The Conversation—19 children, 2 adults killed in Texas elementary school shooting—3 essential reads on America’s relentless gun violence

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