But the number of arms being used by Americas on each other is making the free state feel not at all secure.
These are not the shootings — like the racially motivated massacre at a Buffalo supermarket or the senseless killing at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas — that command news for days on end. They are the daily toll of gun violence Americans are apparently willing to endure for their rights.
The possible new national laws toward which a bipartisan group of senators is inching will not solve the problem. But they could create a standard for red flag laws and improve background checks to keep guns out of the hands of people in crisis or those who shouldn’t have them.
The messaging on gun laws is the key to gun laws
The key to passing those incremental fixes is to convince Republicans that the new laws don’t, in any way, infringe on the Second Amendment.
The Connecticut Democrat would rather ban assault weapons but realizes he needs support from 10 Republicans in the Senate to get that done.
Some new support for an age limit on buying AR-15s
There are some indications the talks could go further than previously expected.
The bipartisan talks do not currently seem to have gotten as far as agreeing to simply raise the age limit.
Republicans must be convinced this is not a state issue
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Republican whip, said Monday that he thinks states should decide if 18- to 21-year-olds can buy semi-automatic rifles, but that there was a larger conversation and one potential idea could be an enhanced waiting period or background check for younger buyers.
Murphy said his talks with Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican, have included that 18-21 population and “doing what is necessary to make sure that we aren’t giving a weapon to anybody that has during their younger years a mental health history, a juvenile record.”
The shooters in both Buffalo and Uvalde could have been flagged.
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who signed those gun measures into law when serving as governor, also seemed to oppose new federal efforts to impose age limits on purchases.
“All this stuff ought to be done at the state level,” he said, arguing that laws are more easily changed at that level.
Pushing new restrictions from Texas
New York has a red flag law, although it did not keep the Buffalo shooter from obtaining weapons.
Court may further erode state gun laws
The Supreme Court could take a bite out of New York’s state gun laws with a decision this term that could invalidate a more-than-a-century-old requirement for residents to show reasons for obtaining concealed carry permits.
What would the court accept?
The late justices and their clerks were on opposing sides of the landmark 2008 decision District of Columbia v. Heller, which said despite that language about well-regulated militias, the Second Amendment actually gave Americans an individual right to bear arms for protection.
The clerks said the decision also invited federal regulation — gun laws — and that much of what’s been discussed, including expanded background checks, would not run afoul of that decision.
“Most of the obstacles to gun regulations are political and policy based, not legal,” Shaw and Bash wrote.
A much bigger problem
Gun violence extends so much further than the planned mass shootings that get so much attention on the news.
Authorities have not yet released the circumstances around the killing of Mark Collins and four of his seven grandchildren, who had gone on a fishing trip.
The suspect, Gonzalo Lopez, already a convicted murderer, was later killed in a shootout with police, using firearms that were likely stolen from the Collins ranch.
Philadelphia’s mayor suggested the guns used in his city were illegally obtained and already against the law.
In liberal states like New York, lawmakers are scrambling to strengthen laws that failed to detect the Buffalo mass shooter.
Meanwhile, in Washington — where it’s much harder to pass laws than in most states — the only laws that may be able to pass the Senate are those that Republicans can be convinced do not infringe on the Second Amendment, which for now takes most gun measures off the table.
This story has been updated with additional information.