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US marks Gun Violence Awareness Day on heels of 3 mass shootings in as many weeks

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NEW YORK, US - Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams speaks as multitude of New Yorkers wearing orange in a march against shootings in schools across the country on Brooklyn Bridge during National Gun Violence Awareness Day in New York, United States on June 2, 2022. (Lokman Vural Elibol - Anadolu Agency)
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Jun 03, 2022 - 09:48 AM

HOUSTON, Texas (AA) – The US is marking National Gun Violence Awareness Day at a time when the country is facing one mass shooting after another and people are wondering what can be done to prevent more such tragedies.

On Wednesday, a 45-year-old man went on a shooting rampage at a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital, killing four people.

On May 14, an 18-year-old gunman went into a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, shooting 13 people and killing 10 of them.

And on May 24, another 18-year-old gunman went on a shooting spree at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students and two teachers.

“LULAC stands in solidarity with all the families in the city of Uvalde,” Sergio Lira, president of the Houston branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said at a news conference.

“If you ban assault rifles, you have less murders. If you do background checks, you have less murders,” Lira continued. “The second amendment was the right to bear arms. Yes, we’re not taking the right to bear arms away, but it’s not intended to kill innocent kids, it’s not intended for mass shootings.”

“These controls should include comprehensive background checks — not just by dealers, but at gun shows too — for all firearm sales,” Bill Crosier, president of the Houston Peace and Justice Center, said at a gun violence awareness rally.

“Plus bans on sales of assault-style rifles and large capacity magazines, which are not for personal protection and have no place in homes, businesses, or for hunting,” added Crosier.

“Getting rid of firearms is not the answer,” said Michael Cargill, a gun advocate and owner of the Central Texas Gun Works gun shop in Austin, Texas.

“Eliminating guns is not even an option,” Cargill told Anadolu Agency. “There are too many guns in America – millions and millions of them. Are you going to ask everyone who has an AR-15-style rifle to just voluntarily hand in their gun? It would be impossible to get rid of all of them.”

Cargill believes a good background check system is already in place but says it needs to be enforced on all levels, from local law enforcement to the district attorney’s office to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“If you’re a convicted felon or have a record of domestic violence or have mental health issues, you have to disclose that information when you buy a gun and are going through a background check,” Cargill explained. “The moment your name and social security number go into the database, the FBI is instantaneously checking to make sure that information is true and accurate.”

Cargill also reiterated that if you falsify your information, there are so-called “lie and try” laws, where individuals trying to buy a gun can be prosecuted by both state and federal authorities if they lie on their background checks.

“People slip through the system when all of these checks and balances are not followed and enforced,” said Cargill. “But if there are any discrepancies in the information given on a background check, they should be scrutinized to the fullest extent.”

“If people cannot follow our laws, we need to do what we can control,” said Mills Bowman, a hunter and gun advocate from Houston.

“We need to look at the facts of the mass shooting and make limits from there,” Bowman told Anadolu Agency. “Age, type of guns, background checks. Depending on the weapon, we should have permits to own those types of guns.”​​​​​​​

“When I was a child, only a few of my parents’ friends had AR-15s,” Bowman continued. “They had to jump through a lot of hoops to own one. I believe we will go back to those days.”

“A vast majority of Americans support such controls,” said Crosier. “Yet too many of our elected representatives fear the gun lobby and loss of their campaign contributions more than they fear the continuing senseless slaughter of children and others with the help of those military-style weapons.”

“It’s time to say no to the gun lobby…and stand up for common sense control on firearms,” he added.

“They’re not going to take away our second amendment rights,” stressed Cargill. “Our country was founded on the right to bear arms, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War.”

Cargill also emphasized that he doesn’t foresee the laws being changed to raise the age of buying a gun from 18 to 21.

“Raising the age limit is not an option,” he said. “We send our soldiers to war at 18 to use guns and kill for our country. We’re not going to tell them when they come back from war that they can’t buy a gun until they’re 21.”

But gun control advocates say gun laws need to drastically change in the US, or we’ll continue to see the carnage of mass shootings that we have over just the past several weeks.

“Do we want to continue to be the country with the most weapons, the country that has the most killings, the country that has more guns than actual citizens?” said Lira.

“The National Rifle Association is beholden to the gun manufacturers for funding and is helping gun manufacturers make millions of dollars selling weapons to irresponsible and hateful people,” said Crosier, “with positive-sounding words like ‘freedom’ and ‘gun rights’ to distract people from how the lack of adequate gun safety laws is causing so many deaths of innocent children and adults and is making it easier for those filled with hate to cause senseless killing on such a massive scale.”

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