Experts reminded GOP Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana about the high firearms death rate in his home state after a question backfired during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, firearms killed over 39,000 people in the United States in 2023. Also, there have been at least 619 mass shootings and 33 mass murders this year. Consequently, the incidents have prompted calls for Congress to strengthen national gun laws.
During the gun violence hearing, Kennedy asked expert witness Dr. Megan Ranney from Yale’s School of Public Health why Chicago “has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range.”
He added, “Do you think it’s because of Chicago citizens who have no criminal record but who have a gun in their home or perhaps for hunting, or do you think it is because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm?”
However, Ranney responded by pointing out that Kennedy’s home state of Louisiana has a higher firearms death rate than Chicago. While Louisiana has a Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, Republicans hold control of both state legislature chambers.
Ranney clapped back, saying, “Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates.” Experts suggest ease of access to purchasing guns in conservative areas as the reason they have high rates of gun violence.
Kennedy interrupted and asked her again about Chicago. Again, Ranney responded that she does not live in Chicago, and it is not her area of expertise. “So I don’t live in Chicago. It’s not my primary area of research,” she said.
“I think there’s easy access to firearms combined with environmental conditions, lack of great education,” Ranney added. She also cited a study that suggested that when people repair abandoned buildings and replace vacant lots with trees, it leads to a decrease in gun violence, stress, and depression in the surrounding neighborhoods.
However, Kennedy dismissed her by saying, “No disrespect, doc, but that sounds a lot like word salad to me.” The exchange between Kennedy and Ranney went viral on social media, with more than 125,000 views on X. Consequently, many, including members of Congress, aired their opinions on the issue.
“Very important point that often goes ignored. Generally, if you’re in a state with good gun laws, you’re much less likely to get shot.” Congressman Maxwell Frost, a Florida Democrat, wrote in response to the video. “Here are the states where you’re most likely to be shot. Notice anything?” he wrote, sharing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention map.
According to a study conducted by the Violence Policy Center, Louisiana had a gun rate death of 28.42 in 2022. According to reports, Chicago, on the other hand, had a gun death rate of roughly 25.82 for that same year.
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Renowned author Michael Stubbs also expressed his opinion. He said, “The utter stupidity and racism of many in charge of governing a multi-racial democracy in a complex and changing world is enough to make you weep.”
Also, Journalist Zaid Jilani accused both sides of playing politics. He said, “Why are states being compared to cities when really neighborhoods are where violence is concentrated.” “The politicking on this issue by all sides is unfortunate,” Jilani said on X.
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