Why isn't anything done about gun violence? The filibuster.

Murdering children with assault rifles may seem inconceivable to many today. What was perhaps a uniquely German trait in the early 1940s is now a uniquely American trait. On a regular basis, Americans must ask why anything isn't done about gun violence in America. But the answer is simple - politics.


The Democrat position on the issue is stricter gun control. The Republican position is more guns through arming teachers or more security guards. But put simply, neither side is willing to vote for the other side's ideas.


Votes on gun control in the U.S. Senate need 60 votes to pass because of the filibuster. Changing or bypassing that rule only to require a simple majority, 51 votes, is not supported by a select few Democrats in the Senate. Most prominently, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Only 50 votes are currently required to break the filibuster, and at the moment, the Senate is split 50/50 between the two parties.



Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia

Whenever there is a mass shooting in the United States, comparisons to the rest of the world are made. While very useful, one only needs to compare U.S. states to draw similar conclusions.


The five worst states in terms of gun deaths per capita average a Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+14. The worst state is Alaska, with 25 gun deaths per 100,000 residents. The best state is the D+15 state of Hawaii, with three gun deaths per 100,000 residents. The five best states on gun deaths per capita average a PVI of D+11.


However, in the developed world, the U.S. does indeed stand alone. The 2nd worst developed country is Croatia, with 4x fewer gun deaths per capita than the United States. But crucially, 90% of children's deaths from guns in high-income countries take place in the United States, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.


Compared to other G20 countries, the United States is not at the top. Brazil has almost twice as many gun deaths per capita as the United States. Gun violence in Latin America is an ongoing problem as Mexico and Argentina also have large rates. However, the rate in the United States is almost 2x higher than in both Mexico and Argentina.




If there is one comparison to other countries to remember in a moment such as this one, it is that Canada is without a Senate filibuster. The neighbour to the north only requires bills to have a simple majority in its Senate to pass. And yet, for senator Joe Manchin, a world without a Senate filibuster is impossible to imagine. Despite the fact that he voted to bypass the filibuster for the debt ceiling just five months ago.