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A new approach to guns in America

On this episode of Today, Explained, German Lopez breaks down the two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

Multiple Fatalities In Mass Shooting At Shopping Center In El Paso
People react and embrace each other during an interfaith vigil for victims of a mass shooting which left at least 20 people dead, on August 4, 2019, in El Paso, Texas.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Americans are once again confronting the country’s unique relationship with guns.

On Saturday, a shooter killed at least 22 people and injured at least two dozen others at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. On Sunday, a gunman killed at least nine people and injured at least 27 in Dayton, Ohio, shortly after 1 am local time.

The weekend before, a shooting in Gilroy, California, killed four and wounded 13 others, while yet another shooting in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, killed six and injured two. That doesn’t even account for the average 100-plus gun deaths that aren’t part of mass shootings but happen every day in the US.

Why does this keep happening? Vox’s German Lopez explains:

It ultimately comes down to America’s lax access to a large supply of guns. The US is one of the few countries in which the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected. But the relationship is unique in another crucial way: Among developed nations, the US is far and away the most homicidal — in large part due to the easy access many Americans have to firearms.

Developed countries with more guns also have more gun deaths

America’s gun problem, Lopez says, comes down to two issues. The first is America’s weak gun laws. Unlike other developed nations that at least request one or more background checks in addition to extra requirements to get a gun, a background check isn’t an absolutely requirement in the US. Put simply: Few barriers exist to get a gun in America. The second issue is that the US has a large supply of guns, far more than any other developed nation.

Democrats have been discussing the same ideas on guns for 25 years, but gun control policies don’t confront the core issue — that America has more guns than any developed country. So how do you change the status quo? Listen to this episode of Today, Explained to find out:

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