The aftermath of a horrific mass shooting is not the time one would usually turn to a humor site, and yet, The Onion had an insightful take on Uvalde. The headline: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” And here’s the kicker: The Onion has run pieces with that same headline for years.

Our mass shooting problem — there have been an average of two per month for the past eight years — arises from a familiar stew of history, culture, law and commerce. And certain facts loom large. Yes, mass shootings represent a small fraction of gun deaths in America. And yes, the Second Amendment makes limiting guns more difficult here than in Canada, Australia or other places. Those are big, hulking obstacles to solving our problem. But there are other assumptions that are trotted out regularly in our hoary gun discussions that are less daunting than they appear.

The Associated Press published a list of 22 mass shootings since 2012. The Aurora, Colorado, shooter (I do not publish the names) purchased his guns just before killing people in a movie theater. Twelve dead. The Navy Yard shooter purchased his guns before his rampage. Twelve dead. The killer who attacked Charleston’s “Mother Emanuel” church purchased his Glock after a botched background check. Nine dead. The Roseburg, Oregon, shooter purchased his guns. Ten dead. The San Bernardino, California, shooter got a friend to purchase the guns he used in his attack. Fourteen dead. The Orlando, Florida, shooter purchased his guns legally a week before killing people in a nightclub. Forty-nine dead. The Las Vegas killer purchased 33 of the 49 guns found in his hotel room in the year prior to his shooting spree at a country music festival. Fifty-eight dead. The Sutherland Springs, Texas, killer was able to purchase his firearms despite a history of domestic violence. Twenty-five dead. The Parkland, Florida, shooter purchased his weapon a year before attacking Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Seventeen dead. The Pittsburgh assassin legally purchased his rifle and three handguns before shooting up the Tree of Life synagogue. Eleven dead. The Thousand Oaks killer? Legally purchased. Twelve dead. Virginia Beach? Legally purchased. Twelve dead. El Paso? Legally purchased. Twenty-three dead. Dayton? Legally purchased. Nine dead. Atlanta? Legally purchased. Eight dead. Boulder? Legally purchased a few days before a grocery store attack. Ten dead. San Jose? Legally purchased. Nine dead. Buffalo? Legally purchased. Ten dead. And Uvalde, legally purchased days before the attack on Robb Elementary School. Twenty-one dead.

Of those 22 cases, there were just three that did not involve a legal sale to the killer. Perhaps all of these killers would have been able to lay hands on guns already owned by individuals. Maybe. But it would have been much harder than walking into a gun store. In most cases, these killers are mentally unstable, impulsive and socially maladroit. Purchasing a weapon via private sale would be more challenging.

So making it more difficult to purchase guns — say, by adding more complete background checks, increasing the minimum age to 21, requiring waiting periods or adopting “red flag laws” that make it possible for family members or police to ask courts to have a person’s guns temporarily removed — would have inhibited the vast majority of the killers listed above.

Here’s another cliche that needs burial — the hunting culture. The misperception here tends to be among pro-gun control Democrats who don’t actually know any hunters and don’t have many in their urban districts but assume that “out there” scores of millions of Americans are shooting deer and pheasants every weekend. In fact, less than 4% of the population hunts, leading to worries about wildlife conservation. More Americans bicycle than go hunting. Four times as many sing in choirs. And vastly more — 65% — play video games.

For good or ill, the rugged American guy out in a duck blind wearing camouflage is becoming, if not quite as endangered as the red wolf, nearly so. Hunting today is less an honored tradition than a boutique hobby.

Hunting is not the reason millions of Americans cherish their guns. Their reasons range from benign, like concerns about their safety, to insane, like stockpiling weapons for the coming apocalyptic battle between QAnon and the forces of darkness. But Democrats stumble when they play into GOP talking points about gun-grabbers. Beto O’Rourke’s pronouncements — “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s” — does more damage to the goal of reasonable gun control than the National Rifle Association can do in a year.

A bipartisan group of senators is currently huddling in hopes of devising some kind of gun control compromise that can pass both houses. Godspeed to them. But I fear their efforts will fail in our ultrapolarized climate.

If we hope to unstick our politics and permit compromise and commonsense reforms for heart-wrenching problems, we’re going to have to reform the way we choose our leaders. GOP politicians don’t dance to the NRA’s tune for the money. They do it because that’s what Republican primary voters demand. And Democrats who grandstand about gun confiscation are appealing to their left flank — the voters who show up for primaries. In the matter of guns, as with other pressing national concerns, the solutions cannot be unlocked until the incentives facing politicians change — and that requires nonpartisan primaries.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the “Beg to Differ” podcast. Her most recent book is “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense.” To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of


  1. The article implies that it is possible to stop a lot of the mass murderers through legislative fiat. Not possible, and those that believe the United States is the only nation where these mass murders occur are also very very wrong, in fact the United States is way down on the list of those countries where mass murders occur, but I suppose to acknowledge that would compromise the gun banners point of view. but it is fact, and there is no legislative solution to the problem of societal ills, and the capacity for mental health care in this country is 92% less than only 25 years ago, and the rates of incarceration for violent felons is also significantly reduced. Sad to tell you all, there is no easy solution and there will never be an easy solution to the evils of mental health and those that are inclined to be criminals either!!

  2. Funny article and totally misleading.

    First I want there to be true investigations into the shooters. From whom influnced the shootings to whom they talked to, web sites visited, alll means of communication and this should be made public. I believe that these mass shooters are given “help” by certian people that want control and looking back on history the first step in controling a society is taking guns from people.

    Now lets look at “mass shootings” and breaak them down into categories of “school shootings”, which are really fairly easy to stop or minimize the harm and other “mass shootings”.

    School shootings are the easiest to stop. Why you ask? Because they happen at a place that should be protected, SCHOOLS. In fact if you look at any of the school shootings you can see break downs on multiple levels that allowed either the entire mass shooting to occur or that did noting to mitigate the shootings. In fact there were many tells that should have given substantial reasons to investigate and in one case the police had been to the shooters residence on multiple occasions. Ever hear of mental health and how to help people that sufferfrom this horiffic malady.

    You see a gun is a tool and there are more efficent and easy to obtain or make tools that will make “mass shotings” appear to be god sends (bad choice of words but the idea has been projected).

    Lets look also at the breakdown of society, at how easily people were controled using fear (yes covid really show how easily the American people are controled), at the prevelance of violence and very violent games that, as this author pointed out, and thankls for the support, that many kids play. This really reinforces the worthlessness of human life, how everyone does not pay attention nor care about others, The list goes on but all of the “taking guns away” will do nothing and may very we’ll make the ssituation worse. Wasn’t Great Britian looking at taking knives away? Really? Now hear is the kicker about “society” and schools. I would not be a teacher, just like I would nopt be cop, in todays society. People are so screwed up that anything these teachers do to keep disclipline in their class rooms is either racist or unprofessional. Cops can’t even defend themselves and they are totally racist. I mean cops are just looking to find blacks to shoot. The terrible indoctrination that has been going on for decades has got to stop. If not you will be living in Venezuela soon and these people will be woundeing why. Really but then indoctrination does not breed smarts something that is planned.

    Other mass shootings are also not the hardest to stop. If people cared about each other then these would be stopped. If people showed any amput of courage, like many of these teachers have shown. Now if mass killers start using bombs we really have a problem. Just sayin.

    Oh and “Red Flag Laws”. As they stand now Red Flag Laws do not address the unconsitutional actions in implementation and enforcement that these laws pose. The Consitution is the big thing that makes the US a great country. It is not, as many liberals would say, makes America not great nor ha America never been great. I would have loved to see the liberals under Nazi control as they would have been the first to persacute the Jews because they are followers and are cowards. Oh funny how conseratives are nazis as the libs say but in truth if you look at the values, what the libs want, the libs actions to get what they want, all of these portray the nazis perfectly.

    1. The “Gun Free” Zones that are set up are open invitations to people who would do violence. No laws will stop a shooting. Examine also WHO and WHAT stopped the shootings! Yes, people who know how to use weapons. Examine where they have strict gun laws, and you will find MORE violence and death.

  3. So my question is this. What’s wrong with their administration of the background checks system? Even though the current checks are supposed to be forwarded by the FFL involved in the sale and are supposed to be “instant” I know that in this environment it takes weeks. I’m okay with that, but what’s missing? If most of these nut cases acquired their weapons legally, there’s got to be something extremely wrong. How many people failed to get the green light from ATF last year?

    1. There are a considerable number of refusals for the purchase of firearms, but the failure is that the folks that have issues that should prevent them from purchasing are not being flagged by the NICS system because the input to the system is dependent upon the states and their various departments, (law enforcement primarily), not providing that information to the NICS system in order that those additional folks should be denied. An additional problem is that the NICS system itself is apparently poorly managed and doesn’t have the resources to maintain it accurately. If those that have telegraphed their intent had been flagged by the state and local resources that are aware of their plans, a lot of them would have been stopped from the legal purchase of a firearm, but it does not stop them from acquiring them, it only makes it a little harder because then they would have to find them in another way, that is, through their drug dealers or other forms of criminal enterprises. The fix, at least for some like the school attacks is actually relatively easy and readily available, harden the schools, arm those in the schools that are willing to train and be responsible for the safety of the school, and stop with the “gun-free” zones that are schools and other public places where they have prohibited the legal carry of concealed firearms, ie: a good guy with a gun!

  4. I will not sirrender even One Inch or Letter of my Constitutional Rights to anyone but will Fight to their Deaths to defend them!

  5. One thing everyone leaves out is that demorats do the most for gun sales every time they rattle the “we are going to take away your guns” saber. Since joey bidden started chanting his mantra gun sales have skyrocketed. If you demorats want gun sales not to grow, get off of your soap box and shutup.

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