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Republicans ‘complicit’ in US mass shootings as they obstruct Democrats gun legislation: US senator

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

US Senator Dick Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) has called Republicans accomplices to mass murder as two US deadly mass shootings in a week have once again brought to the fore the nation's plague of gun violence.

Blumenthal said they Republicans are “complicit” in the US gun violence because “they won’t support Democrats’ gun-control bills.”

“They’re the ones who are ducking that responsibility and become complicit in all of these shootings,” Blumenthal said in an interview.

“It’s not just Boulder,” he added, refrying to a deadly Colorado supermarket shooting on Monday. “It is 100 killings a day, not to mention the emotional traumas and injuries that result, the eight children lost every day of guns that are stored unsafely.”

Two separate bursts of killing, on opposite sides of the United States, claimed 18 lives and confronted the nation anew with a painful problem that was obscured by the COVID-19 out-of-control spread.

New calls were raised again to tighten US gun laws following the deadly shooting of eight people at three spas in the Atlanta-area on March 16 and the rampage that killed 10 people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado on Monday.

Blumenthal also had a verbal clash with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the Democrat-controlled Senate held a hearing on Tuesday to debate how to respond to the US gun violence.

Cruz rejected Blumenthal’s claim that US Republicans obstruct gun legislation, saying the Connecticut Democrat knew that claim to be false because Cruz and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) previously introduced a bill that would help block felons and people with serious mental illness from buying firearms.

Cruz said fifty-two senators, including nine Democrats, supported the bill in 2013, but Blumenthal and other opponents blocked it from getting a vote through a filibuster.

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater, where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said.

Cruz said, "After every mass shooting... Democrats proposed taking away guns from law-abiding citizens, because that's their political objective."

He said such laws make violent crime worse, noting that “when you disarm law-abiding citizens, you make them more likely to be victims,” as he referred to US cities with the strictest gun controls and high rates of crime and murder.

The Republican senator reiterated that, “If you want to stop these murders, go after the murderers.”

Blumenthal, however, said Republicans offer “thoughts and prayers” after each mass shooting, “but then they oppose common-sense, Constitutional measures to separate people from guns when those people are dangerous.”

23 million guns were purchased in the US in 2020 as the county was hit by twin crises, the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 545,000 in the United States, the world's worst absolute toll, and a historic mass movement against police violence that was sparked after African-American George Floyd suffocated under a white police officer's knee.

"When Americans are concerned about their personal security, they buy firearms," a Brookings Institute study said.

"Such concerns have been rampant since March (2020), initially due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and then the social unrest in June that followed George Floyd's killing," it added.

Worrying jumps

American cities also recorded worrying jumps in gun-related deaths last year. Firearms were used to kill 43,535 people in 2020, including 19,379 homicides -- a roughly 25 percent jump in homicides over 2019.

The US Gun Violence Archive counted 611 "mass shootings," defined as four people wounded or killed in one incident, in 2020 against 417 for the previous year in the United States.

"Over the last year, communities have suffered not only from COVID-19 and its financial aftermath, but also from gun violence, a co-occurring public health crisis that has surged in all its forms," Robyn Thomas, executive director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told the US Senate on Tuesday.

After the Colorado deadly shooting, President Joe Biden and other Democrats called for tighter restrictions -- something that about 60 percent of Americans said they supported in a 2019 Pew Research poll.

Republican senator, John Kennedy, made a comparison to motorists responsible for fatal drunk driving crashes in his argument against new restrictions on lawful gun ownership.

"I think what many folks on my side of the aisle are saying is that the answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers," he said.

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