Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on June 8, 2022 in Washington, DC.
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- AOC said on Wednesday the rate of school shootings in the US was an international embarrassment.
- The US had 288 school shootings from 2009 to 2018. Other G7 countries saw just 5 in the same period.
- Democrats are pushing for new gun legislation after a shooting at a Texas school that killed 21.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday characterized the rate of school shootings in the US as a mark of global shame.
Addressing Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on gun violence, the New York Democrat asked, “Between 2009 and 2018, how many school shootings did the United States have?”
“288,” Pringle responded.
Ocasio-Cortez then asked how many school shootings the US’ G7 partners — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK — collectively had during the same period. “Five,” Pringle said. That means that between 2009 and 2018 the US saw 57 times more school shootings than other G7 countries combined.
“288 versus five. This is not normal. Not only is it not normal, it is internationally embarrassing and delegitimizing to the US. Because for all the billions and trillions that this body authorizes in the name of national security, we can’t even keep our kids safe from their school being turned into a war-zone,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The US spends far more on defense than any other country in the world — $782 billion this fiscal year — but has the highest rate of gun deaths among high-income countries. Moreover, guns are the leading cause of death for children in the US. The US also has highest rate of civilian firearm ownership in the world.
—The Recount (@therecount) June 8, 2022
Many of the most high-profile shootings in the US in recent decades have occurred at schools. There have been 337 school shootings in the US since the Columbine High massacre in 1999, including 42 in 2021 alone and 24 this year so far, according to a tracker from the Washington Post.
Wednesday’s hearing came on the heels of a series of mass shootings in the US, including a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas in late May that left 21 dead — including 19 children. The shootings have once again ignited a fierce debate over gun violence in the US.
Following the shootings, Congressional Democrats are pushing for stricter gun legislation. But many Republicans in Congress are opposed to any new gun laws and have explicitly avoided blaming mass shootings on firearms, instead suggesting that mental health problems are the root cause.
“We as a state, we as a society need to do a better job with mental health,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting, adding, “Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period. We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and to do something about it.”
Meanwhile, Democrats like Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut have forcefully rejected the notion that mental health problems are to blame.
“Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world. You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness, because we don’t — we’re not an outlier on mental illness. We’re an outlier when it comes to access to firearms and the ability of criminals and very sick people to get their hands on firearms. That’s what makes America different,” Murphy said in comments to reporters last month.
In a speech last week, President Joe Biden implored Congress to pass new laws to help address gun violence in the US. “For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say ‘enough?’ Enough,” Biden said.