You tweeted something really provocative, saying that we have to address the massive explosion of guns in order to deal with gun violence. How do we do that?
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I don’t really think people understand how big a problem this is and how quickly it has come to overwhelm us. That tweet was accompanied by a chart, and I’d encourage people to look at it. The explosion of guns in this country is a very recent phenomenon, certainly of the last 15 years, but really of the last five years. The gun purchase rates, starting in the Obama era, but really supercharged during the pandemic, have meant that there are exponentially more weapons out there today than ever before.
It was hammered home for me by the mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut, a guy by the name of Neil O’Leary, who used to be a police chief. Before he was a police chief, he used to be a beat cop. He said, “I started out in the 1980s. It was a big deal if we came across an illegal gun. It happened every now and again, but there weren’t a lot of illegal guns out there. Criminals had them, real hardened criminals. Then, about 10, 15 years ago, it started becoming more regular. Every week we would pick up an illegal gun or two as we were stopping people, as we were doing searches.
Then he said, “Today, every day. It’s like water. It’s like rain. We come across illegal guns every day because they’re everywhere.” Detectives in Bridgeport, Connecticut, told me the other day, “Used to be that a group of kids that were involved in risky behaviors, they’d normally have a community gun. They’d all know where the gun was if they needed it. Now every single kid is armed. Every car has a weapon.” So what happens is every dispute turns into a shooting.
That same detective in Bridgeport told me, “I don’t respond to fistfights anymore. They just don’t happen. Kids don’t have fistfights in Bridgeport. Every beef turns into shots fired.” That is connected to the ubiquity of weapons — so what do we do about it? It’s really hard. We can do gun buybacks. That has a pretty narrow-scale effect. But this is a problem that we’re just living with right now, and we’re not talking about gun confiscation. So you’re just trying at this point to stop the problem from getting even worse.
— Dean Obeidallah in Sen. Chris Murphy: Republicans “Don’t Give a Crap” About Kids and Gun Violence