When the Bubble Bursts

As more and more gun violence ensues, why don’t lawmakers seem to care?


Photo Credit: Anchorage Daily News


On March 22nd, 2021, Ryan Borowski was interviewed on CNN about the events he survived earlier that day: the King Soopers shooting in Boulder, less than 20 minutes from Centaurus High School. He was near tears. “Boulder feels like a bubble, and the bubble burst… It doesn’t feel like there’s anywhere safe anymore sometimes. This feels like the safest spot in America, and I just nearly got killed for getting a soda and a bag of chips.” 


To many Boulder residents, the phrase “Boulder Bubble” is very familiar. It refers to the feeling of disconnected safety the area possesses for many people. Suffice to say that the bubble has been burst. Nowhere is safe anymore. To regain safety, lawmakers must (shockingly) actually listen to the people and confront the problem.


Lawmakers want to look out for their careers. One would think that would include showing they care about preventing innocent deaths, but apparently that doesn’t have wide appeal. But in case those in power should desire to do their jobs, here’s how they would do it: pass the two gun reform bills (H.R. 5717 and H.R. 127) heading towards the Senate.


Both bills address long standing concerns regarding background checks (getting approved for ownership) and obtaining a gun license (legal purchasing). Currently, there are many laws in place, but just as many loopholes. The Bradyunited.org website, which promotes the 1993 Brady Plan for background checks, says “Today, one in five gun sales are conducted without a background check — through gun shows, private sales, and over the internet in online sales.” These bills close some of those holes. H.R. 127 requires the Department of Justice to establish a public database of all registered firearms and states that “[the] DOJ shall issue such a license if the individual is 21 years of age or older, undergoes a criminal background check and psychological evaluation, completes a certified training course, and has an insurance policy.”  H.R 5717 is much more extensive, but the bigger ticket items are raising the minimum age for ownership from 18 to 21, and it “requires law enforcement agencies to be notified following a firearms-related background check that results in a denial.”


It is likely these bills will die in the Senate, because lawmakers on both sides are too concerned with re-election to actually achieve anything. The mentality of “I’m not going to do anything so I can stay and continue to do nothing” kills more bills than the legislative process. Perhaps they are hoping that the reverberations of gunshots will cover their silence. 


Three quarters of gun owners (predictably) say they feel safer with a gun in their household than they would without a gun, according to the Pew Research Center. This is part of what makes gun reform so difficult. Everyone wants to be safe. But turning firearms into the next cold war is not the way to do it; they have guns so therefore I need a gun to protect myself from their guns, until everyone has guns and no one feels safe. The solution is glaringly simple: regulate firearms better and the cycle will end.


Inaction comes at a steep price. According to the Gun Violence Archive, so far this year there have been 126 mass shootings (the archive classifies a mass shooting as a shooting resulting in 4 or more casualties, not including the shooter). It’s only April. That’s around 31 mass shootings each month. If current trends continue for the next 8 months, there will have been 372 mass shootings in 2021. That is more than the number of days in a year.


Gun violence will not stop on its own. Legislators must step up, before all the bubbles burst.