In the eyes of many New Yorkers, it’s one of the country’s most shocking reruns, as painful as it is predictable.
A madman armed with an assault rifle transforms a peaceful everyday space – a grocery store, even an elementary school – into a bloody battlefield, hunting down innocent victims in an explosion of terror and death.
Lawmakers pledge to work to stop the carnage, stoking glimmers of hope for a congressional crackdown. But sooner or later, the flame is extinguished, extinguished by a Republican party that has hardened its opposition to even modest gun control measures.
A mass gun-fuelled massacre on Tuesday killed 19 children and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas, and once again stoked the familiar chorus of frightened Americans demanding change.
“We have an obligation to pursue all avenues and explore all realistic options to break the cycle of suffering and inaction,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York. “Not trying everything is not acceptable.”
But Schumer acknowledged that Democrats “are under no illusions that it will be easy”, saying they have been “burnt in the past” by Republicans who have set their sights on the National Rifle Association and powerful pro-gun interests.
Precious Joseph, a school security guard who lives in the shooting-scarred Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, suggested on Friday that she wasn’t exactly holding her breath. “It happens,” Joseph, 38, said of the mass shootings. “And nothing changes.”
Another Brownsville resident, Alan Paul, 70, put it another way: “The shooting can’t stop in America.”
“The shootings will never stop in America,” said Paul, a retired security guard. “Politicians are messing up America. This must stop. It’s a very difficult thing to stop.”
Rocky Simon, 58, who lays his head in Canarsie, Brooklyn, and paints cars at a body shop for a living, took a slightly more upbeat tone, saying he thought it was hard to say whether change was afoot this time.
“We need to start with better gun laws,” Simon said. “It’s just too easy to get to these weapons.”
Capitol Hill Democrats strongly agree with this position and have pushed for expanded background checks for gun purchases and for so-called red flag laws allowing courts to order that weapons are withdrawn from persons deemed dangerous.
Republicans have blocked Democrats at every turn of the decade since 20 young children died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Even bipartisan legislation that would institute universal background checks failed to garner 60 votes in the Senate, rejected by Republicans in defiance of consistent public polls showing around 90% support among Americans.
Each devastating shooting has met the same pattern: rumbles from Washington, followed by futile legislative efforts.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a gun-owning Democrat from West Virginia who pushed for a thorough background check after the Newtown shooting, said Thursday he was encouraged by the activity on both sides of the gone and that this time “feels different”.
But NBC News reported that Manchin offered a similar ray of hope — almost verbatim — after the shooting deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, four years ago.
“I know people are feeling that moment of deja vu,” Sen. Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who is currently leading the charge in Washington on gun control, said Thursday at a press conference at the Capitol.
“What I also know is that great social change movements in this country — the ones you’ve heard about in the history books — don’t succeed in a year or two,” Murphy said. “Sometimes they take a decade or more.”
A generation ago, Democrats passed a law, drafted by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, that banned the manufacture of certain high-capacity assault weapons and magazines.
The 1994 assault weapons ban expired after a decade, and the enactment of similar legislation turned into a Democratic pipe dream: After the Sandy Hook killings, the Senate blocked a bid for a new ban assault weapons, with 40 votes in favor and 60 against. .
Some states still have their own strict gun laws. New York, for example, has a universal background check provision, restrictions on assault weapons, and a red flag law.
But loose rules in neighboring states can lead to local bloodshed. The white gunman who killed 10 black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket this month allegedly bought a high-capacity magazine across the border in Pennsylvania before the racist rampage.
Gov. Hochul said Wednesday that other states with “lax laws” like Pennsylvania rob New York officials of the ability to “keep people safe in our own state.”
The governor has called for gun safety laws across the United States and pleaded for the Supreme Court not to strike down a century-old New York law limiting licenses to carry handguns to people with specific defense needs.
The nation’s top court is seen as likely to oust the gun law next month. Mayor Adams said New York City should be “very scared” of the potential decision, but also expressed hope for a breakthrough in Congress.
“All we need is 10 senators just to walk into a room and put us in the right place to reverse this madness,” Adams said at a press conference Wednesday. “I hope these senators have the moral courage to put in place the process of rescuing our children.”
“And I also hope that the Supreme Court will deliberate again,” added the mayor.
Before a decision is made in court, Murphy and a bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers are preparing to spend the next week negotiating gun proposals, perhaps focusing on red flag proposals.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said Thursday he had encouraged Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to work toward a deal with Democrats on guns. Cornyn has an A+ rating from the NRA.
“Hopefully we can find a bipartisan solution,” McConnell told CNN.
As Roy Biplob, a 30-year-old mailman, carried letters through Sunset Park on Friday, he said US leaders had to do something to reduce the number of guns in circulation.
“They need to get these guns off the streets,” Biplob said during his run through the Brooklyn neighborhood where a gunman allegedly used a Glock 17 pistol bought in Ohio to shoot 10 people on the N train last month.
“Look at New York: we’re strict with guns, but they still get them,” he said. “If Texas had a rule like New York, that might help.”
“They have to close the loopholes.”