Will congress step in? Washington's reaction to violence hasn't - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Will congress step in? Washington's reaction to violence hasn't always been neutral

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Three of the 10 biggest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have taken place in the last five months. See in bold below:

  1. Route 91 Concert in Las Vegas, 10/17
  2. Pulse Nigh Club, 6/16
  3. Virginia Tech, 4/07
  4. Sandy Hook Elementary, 12/12
  5. Sutherland Springs, TX Church, 11/17
  6. Luby's Cafeteria, 10/91
  7. McDonald's in San Ysidro, CA, 7/84
  8. University of Texas, 8/66
  9. Parkland Florida High School, 2/18
  10. San Bernardino, 12/15

The question weighing on the minds of many Americans is: will Congress step in? As NBC reports, there was a time when gun incidents and crime trends brought legislative actions from Washington. 

  • 1934: Congress passed and President Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Firearms Act in response to the rise of organized crime and gangster culture that grew out of prohibition. The law put a $200 tax on automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns. NBC reports that with inflation, the tax would equate to approximately $3,500 for 2018. The law still exists today, but the tax remains at $200. 
  • 1968: Following the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy Martin Luther King Jr. congress passed the Gun Control Act. The law expanded licensing and regulation on the firearms industry, and grew the list of people who could not purchase a gun to include most convicted felons and mentally ill people.
  • 1986: Congress passed the Law Enforcement Officer's Protection Act, which outlawed armor-piercing bullets during a time when city gangs and violence came to city streets. 
  • 1993-1994:  The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act passed, giving us the five-day waiting period for handgun sales, the assault weapons ban and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The aforementioned laws many not have been the perfect responses to violence, but they were, without question, responses from Congress. They were attempts by Washington to do something following events or trends that upset the American public. 

According to the Washington Post, seven of the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history have taken place since 1995. Let's revisit the list from earlier. Again, see in bold below:

  1. Route 91 Concert in Las Vegas, 10/17
  2. Pulse Nigh Club, 6/16
  3. Virginia Tech, 4/07
  4. Sandy Hook Elementary, 12/12
  5. Sutherland Springs, TX Church, 11/17
  6. Luby's Cafeteria, 10/91
  7. McDonald's in San Ysidro, CA, 7/84
  8. University of Texas, 8/66
  9. Parkland Florida High School, 2/18
  10. San Bernardino, 12/15

Despite the devastation, Gallup polling numbers on wanting gun laws that are “more strict” have hardly moved. Since 2000, they follow a standard trend. After an attack, support for tougher rules tends to rise to approximately 60 percent, but the numbers later settle back to somewhere in the 40s as time passes. The Gallup polling numbers show that percentages were much higher in the early 1990's.

As NBC says, the last two decades, the gun debate has evolved. It's gone from “there ought to be law in place” to “it’s too soon to talk about legislation” to “you can’t legislate the problem away.”

An event that would have dramatically shaken the country and had it asking “how could this happen?" just a few decades ago has Americans asking a vastly different question in 2018: "what's changed?" 

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