The mass shooting that killed at least nine people Thursday at Umpqua Community College’s campus was the 45th school shooting to take place in the U.S. this year, according to the gun-control advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety. The group defines a school shooting as “... when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on school or campus grounds.”
Each subsequent incident sparks the same questions: What is our government doing to prevent such a thing from happening again? Are legislators speaking up for their tragedy-struck districts?
National Journal has taken a look at shootings in U.S. schools over the past two years, and how legislators in the 114th Congress have responded. Since January 2014, there have been a total of 104 school shootings across 88 congressional districts. Only 26 percent of the representatives from these districts have sponsored or cosponsored legislation seeking to, in some way, restrict firearm access or usage. Those that have are all Democrats.
Out of 41 Democratic U.S. representatives that have had a school shooting in their district, 53 percent of them have sponsored or cosponsored a gun-restriction bill in the past two years. Republicans have seen 47 incidents of similar tragedy in their districts, with zero sponsorship on gun-restriction bills.
In the Senate, 32 percent of Democrats from states that have endured school shootings in the last two years have sponsored pro-gun-control measures—zero percent of Republicans from those states have.
No Republican senator or representative from a district that saw a school shooting in 2014 or 2015 has sponsored or cosponsored legislation that would restrict gun usage or access for civilian U.S. citizens (Rep. Peter King of New York sponsored an amendment expanding background checks, but he is the only Republican to have done so thus far in 2015). Many Republicans have backed measures seeking to loosen gun regulation, in part arguing that such measures would prevent future shooting attacks. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in 2012, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
In the spring of 2013, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Patrick Toomey presented an initiative that would have required background checks for those with a history of mental illness or criminal activity. The bill failed on the Senate floor. Of the senators still in office who have seen school shootings on their home turf, 34 voted against the push for added gun restrictions, and 29 voted in favor.
Presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Rand Paul voted to block the Manchin-Toomey amendment. Since then, Cruz and Rubio have each seen seven school shootings in their home states, Graham three, and Paul two. Bernie Sanders voted in favor of the failed amendment. His state has seen no school shootings in the past two years.
Thursday’s attack brings the total up to 142 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre at the end of 2012, per Everytown.
In August, National Journal found that the states with the most gun-related laws have the lowest gun-related deaths.
For this story, we examined legislation introduced in the 114th Congress seeking to impose restrictions of any kind on legal firearm usage or access. Measures dealing with law-enforcement firearm usage, hunting weapons, and antique firearms were excluded. The bills we used: H.R. 376, H.R. 377, H.R. 2380, H.R. 2283, H.R. 225 , H.R. 752, H.R. 2732, H.R. 226, H.R. 368, H.R. 2767, H.R. 2216, H.R. 1217, H.R. 1745, H.R. 1449, H.R. 1076, H.R. 378, H.R. 307, H.R. 47, H.R. 410, H.Res. 96, H.Res. 289, S. 407, S. 1751, and S. 551.