In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Republican Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana faced tough questions about his home state’s high firearms death rate. Here’s the full story.
Gun Violence Debate
With over 39,000 firearm-related deaths in the United States so far in 2023, the issue of gun violence has gained heightened attention, sparking debates about the need for stronger national gun laws.
No Clear Answer
Proponents of gun control advocate for limitations on certain weapons, like assault rifles, to curb shootings.
Conversely, some argue that stricter gun laws would infringe upon the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The tension around this topic remains a significant challenge in American politics.
High Crime Chicago
During a Senate Judiciary hearing on gun violence, Senator Kennedy questioned Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, about gun violence in Chicago, often portrayed by conservatives as a city with high crime rates due to progressive prosecutorial policies.
America’s Largest Shooting Range
Kennedy asked Dr Ranney “Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range? Do you think it’s because of Chicago citizens who have no criminal record but who have a gun in their home for protection or perhaps for hunting? Or do you think it’s because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm?”
Dr. Ranney pointed out that Louisiana, Senator Kennedy’s home state, actually has a higher firearms death rate than Chicago.
Republican Controlled State
Louisiana, led by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, has Republican control of both legislative chambers.
Inequality to Blame
Experts attribute higher gun violence rates in conservative areas to factors such as inequality and easy access to firearms.
Lack of Education
Responding to Kennedy’s question, Dr. Ranney explained, “I think there’s easy access to firearms combined with environmental conditions, lack of great education.”
Addressing Environmental Factors
She highlighted studies demonstrating that addressing environmental factors, like repairing abandoned buildings and greening vacant lots in urban neighborhoods, can reduce gun violence, stress, and depression.
Senator Kennedy dismissed her response as a “word salad.”
A video of the exchange then went viral online, attracting attention and sparking conversations about gun violence and its underlying causes.
According to a study by the Violence Policy Center, Louisiana had a gun death rate of 28.42 in 2022, while Chicago’s rate was approximately 25.82 for the same year.
The exchange between Senator Kennedy and Dr. Ranney brought attention to the disparities in gun violence rates between different regions.
Lack of Effective Solutions
The video exchange further underscores the ongoing challenge of finding effective solutions to address gun violence.
As the nation grapples with the complex dynamics of gun control, the conversation remains a critical aspect of shaping future policies.
Online the viral exchange met with mixed reactions.
One person commented, “Kennedy’s excuse for being obtuse is word salad. If you don’t like what the person says you tell them they’re stupid? He just got spanked about his incorrect numbers and his answer is to gaslight!”
Others online took a different view, with one commenting “I still have not seen a gun get up and shoot someone of its own accord. Bad drivers kill more people than guns per year. So, let’s just ban cars.”
People With Guns Kill People
Clearly not satisfied with that answer, another user jokingly posted “Well, the right is always saying it’s not the guns but the people. Maybe they ought to look into that a little more.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Consolidated News Photos. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.