One year ago, two states each saw a horrific, high-profile mass shooting in the span of 10 days. On May 14, 2022, a white supremacist killed 10 Black people in a racist rampage at a Tops supermarket on the East Side of Buffalo, New York, killing 10 Black people. Just over a week later, on May 24, 19 children and two teachers were shot dead at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The suspects in both attacks were 18-year-olds wielding legally purchased assault-style rifles.
While the shootings may have had some similarities, Jay Tokasz reports for The Buffalo News, policymakers in the two states had starkly different responses. Within weeks of the Tops shooting and the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, Democratic-controlled New York adopted restrictions — many of which are now being challenged in federal court — that limited where guns can be carried, strengthened permitting requirements, and raised the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21.
In Texas, since the GOP-dominated Legislature convened in January, gun restriction legislation has mostly floundered. A raise-the-age measure similar to New York’s and championed by Uvalde residents temporarily appeared to gain momentum before it missed a crucial procedural deadline; a school safety bill that’s still in the works does not change who can carry firearms on campuses. Legislators did, however, vote to close a loophole in the state’s background check laws. It’s a drop in a bucket: As The Texas Tribune reported, state lawmakers have passed more than 100 bills that loosened gun regulations over the past 20 years.
Still, it’s hard to pin down the exact interplay between gun violence and lawmakers’ response, noted Chris Poliquin, an assistant professor at UCLA and co-author of a paper on how mass shootings influence gun policy. “As horrific as [mass shootings] are, there’s not so many of them that they’re very amenable to large-scale quantitative analysis,” Poliquin told The Buffalo News. “It can be really hard to make heads or tails about what the association is between particular policies and these events.”
What to Know Today
On May 24, 2022, Jessica Treviño picked up her kids David James, Austin, and Illiaña from Robb Elementary at 11:30 a.m., just before an 18-year-old armed with an assault rifle attacked the school. Since the mass shooting, the children have suffered from nightmares and panic attacks — and they’re just a small slice of the generation of Uvalde kids with emotional and psychological damage from the massacre. [The Texas Tribune]
California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who campaigned on holding police accountable, declined to take over a high-profile police shooting case that was dropped by San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. Bonta’s inaction put an end to the first known prosecution of a San Francisco officer for the on-duty killing of a civilian. [Bolts]
Evolv Technology has aggressively marketed its artificial intelligence-powered weapons detection system to schools, and its efforts are paying off: This month, the company announced its stock price had risen 167 percent over the past year. But public reports show the company overpromises the system’s efficiency and effectiveness, and it’s come under criticism for faults in its technology. [The Intercept]
Border Patrol agents killed a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation on tribal land in southern Arizona; family members said the man had called Border Patrol for assistance. Tribal police and the FBI are investigating the shooting. [Associated Press/KVOA]
America is in a particularly critical moment in the story of its relationship with guns: Right now, the country is in a judicial and legislative free-for-all, argues Amy Davidson Sorkin, that’s on a dangerous collision course with the 2024 presidential election. [The New Yorker]
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, is finding unlikely allies in firearm safety groups after his decision to call lawmakers back to the Statehouse for a special session on gun reform legislation. Meanwhile, GOP members of the General Assembly want police to release The Covenant School shooter’s writings — over the objections of parents and the school itself — arguing that the evidence could inform the upcoming session. [NBC/Axios]
Memphis Grizzlies player Ja Morant was suspended from all team activities after he flashed a gun on an Instagram livestream for the second time in just over two months. However you view Morant’s behavior, writes Kevin B. Blackistone, when you reduce it, you find that “he is wholly symptomatic of the infection in this country that is its gun culture.” [The Washington Post]
Sweden used to be known as a peaceful welfare state. How did it become Europe’s gun murder capital? [The Wall Street Journal]
2.5 times — the greater magnitude of Sweden’s firearm homicide rate compared with the rest of Europe. Sweden’s overall homicide rate is one-sixth of the U.S.’s, but the gun murder rate in Stockholm is 30 times higher per capita than in London. [The Wall Street Journal]