What underlies US inertia on mass shootings? It may be lack of trust.


Raleigh, North Carolina; Mexico City; Basel, Switzerland; and Toronto

As a commercial pilot certified to carry a gun while he flies, Paul Valone has had training on how to use a firearm to neutralize mass shooters and thwart terrorists.

It’s not with glee that the North Carolinian had to learn how to unjam a gun with one hand or manage it blindfolded. Rather he sees his skills acquisition as a civic duty, at a time when he says values are fraying in American life – underscored by the latest shooting to shock the nation: seven people shot dead at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. It happened less than six weeks after 19 elementary school students and two teachers were shot dead in May in their classroom in Uvalde, Texas.

Like 63% of American gun owners polled by Gallup in 2019, Mr. Valone carries a weapon for self-protection – relying on himself to keep his family and friends safe.

Why We Wrote This

Gun regulation comes down to a question of who do people trust with their safety. Is it government? Fellow citizens? Or only themselves? How publics respond explains the differences between the gun culture of the U.S. and other countries.

“Weapons shouldn’t be comfortable. They should be comforting,” says Mr. Valone, a federal flight deck officer and president of Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun rights group. “Any place I can be legally armed, you can rest assured I will be.”

Mr. Valone is part of an undeniable trend: A country filled with disquiet is holding its guns close. Each mass shooting reignites a long-standing fight for more gun control – and a sense of disbelief around the world that anyone would see another solution. But Americans have tended to seek out more guns for protection, not fewer to try to end the violence.

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