Another mass shooting - where is the will to stop it?

A forensics team works the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on "college night," killing 12 people including a Ventura County deputy. Investigators say the gunman then apparently killed himself. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In the wake of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California that left 13 people dead Wednesday night, KATU spoke with sociologists about why despite several similar incidents in recent years the U.S. is still not seeing dramatic federal action on gun control.

Their answers went deeper than politics as they delved into what may be driving voters in the first place.

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people. In the aftermath, the federal government took swift and dramatic action, overhauling airport security and creating a new government agency, the Department of Homeland Security. Polls showed many of the actions had a great deal of support from citizens.

But with mass shootings it's a different story.

First off the term "mass shooting" is not officially defined.

The FBI has statistics on what it calls "active shooter" incidents defined as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area."

Its database includes the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 28 people in 2012, the San Bernardino, California workplace shooting, which left 14 dead in 2015, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 50 people in 2016 and the Las Vegas concert shooting last year that claimed 59 lives.

According to the FBI, from 2001 to 2017 nearly 800 people died in active shooter incidents.

And on Thursday, a Washington Post analysis pushed the number higher. It has a narrower focus excluding gang shootings and domestic violence shootings and starts in 1966. From then on it says 1,135 people were killed in mass shootings.

Meanwhile, citizens often hear and see many of the same sound-bytes from politicians.

After the 2015 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Gov. Kate Brown, D-Oregon, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."

President Donald Trump made similar comments after the shooting at YouTube headquarters in California in April.

But on a federal level lawmakers haven't taken much action as U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, complained about on Twitter Thursday.

Randy Blazak, Ph.D., a Portland sociologist and criminologist, is not optimistic federal gun laws will change.

"Part of it is it’s woven into our culture, our culture that connects masculinity and guns. These things are sort of woven together," he told a KATU reporter Thursday. "It's like the air that we breathe and so it’s hard to confront it when it’s so much a normal part of our culture.”

Meanwhile, David Yamane, a sociology professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, said, "At least 40 percent of American households have a gun in them."

He told KATU many gun-owning Americans fear proposals like the planned ban on sales of nearly all semi-automatic weapons in Oregon that failed to reach the ballot earlier this year.

"And that includes a majority of all of the firearms that Americans own," Yamane explained. "What might be seen as incremental steps in gun control always signal to a certain part of the population something larger. ... I don’t think people felt like that was going to happen with Department of Homeland Security with enhanced security screenings with airports. For example, people were not going to lose their ability to fly.”

Polls show around 60 to 65 percent of Americans support stricter gun control regulations but many differ on what stricter gun control means.

Quinnipiac University says 96 percent of Americans support universal background checks while just 53 percent would support a ban on semi-automatic rifles.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off