It is not a surprise that Americans have more privately-owned firearms than any other country in the world, and that recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have brought a resurgence of the gun control debate in the national conversation. With every major shooting, vigorous debate ensues and dozens of bills are filed across the country. Most of these never leave their respective committees, and little actually happens from a legislative standpoint.
Do these arguments on both sides of the gun control debate make any difference?
The short answer is yes. Here's why.
Gallup polling has shown that less than 1% of Americans think that gun control is the biggest problem facing the country. Immigration, Education, and the Economy are much higher on the list. That is, until mass shootings catapult the gun control debate into the national spotlight. In the days that follow, politicians on both sides of the aisle take to the media to grapple for political power. What happens in the wake of these shootings is often a consolidation of political support for (or against) gun control.
Politicians and pundits use words like "common sense" and "constitutional rights" to stir up their bases. This leads to further polarization and division. Instead of mourning the loss of those murdered, the conversation quickly divides the nation along these lines, perhaps cutting an even deeper wound into America.
The ramifications of this include increased voter turnout and the opportunity for upstart politicians to make a name for themselves on both sides of this issue. Additionally, some policy changes are likely to be made as a result. In fact, with President Trump breaking with the Republican party and suggesting gun control measures, something might change on the national scale.
In general, changes do happen after mass shootings, but those changes are often small political moves that set up the future of politics in America. New political faces emerge when controversial issues come to the forefront, and this can have enormous impacts in the political sphere.
With any issue, only time will tell what happens this time, but the trends suggest that this weekend's events will cause a slow chain reaction that could shape our future.