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Oregon Mass Shooting Rekindles Debate on Gun Violence

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People bow their heads in prayer during a vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Oregon.
People bow their heads in prayer during a vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Oregon.

Last week's mass-shooting at an Oregon college that left 10 people dead has revived the politically-polarizing issue of gun violence in the United States and what, if anything, should be done about it.

"I don't know what to feel right now," said Sara, a student at Umpqua Community College. "I'm terrified. I don't want to go back there for a long time."

An outpouring of shock and grief in Oregon comes months after a deadly mass shooting at a South Carolina church and nearly three years after a bloodbath at a Connecticut elementary school.

People bow their heads in prayer during a vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Oregon.
People bow their heads in prayer during a vigil Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Winston, Oregon.

In each case, tragedy spurs fierce debate on Capitol Hill. But legislation aimed at curbing America's firearms mortality rate, the highest among developed nations, has been stymied for years.

"We've become numb to this," said a visibly angry President Barack Obama Thursday. "This is a political choice we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose loved ones because of our inaction."

Those running to succeed Obama are speaking out.

"I know there is a way to have sensible gun control measures that help prevent violence, prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and save lives," said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Republicans are far less enthusiastic about a legislative approach.

"Before we start calling for more laws, I think we ought to consider why we don't enforce the laws we have," said Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina.

Fellow-Republican Jeb Bush made headlines with a comment about the challenges of leadership in general, but which many saw as insensitive to the tragedy in Oregon.

"Look, stuff happens. There's always a crisis," Bush said. "And the impulse is always to do something, and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."

In 2013, a bill to better-scrutinize firearms purchasers was blocked in the Senate by gun-rights defenders. Today's Republican-led Congress has even fewer members willing to consider gun control legislation.

But the president is undeterred.

"This will not change until the politics change and the behavior of elected officials changes," Obama said. "And so the main thing I'm going to do is talk about this on a regular basis."

The Democratic Party leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is calling for a special commission to probe gun violence and recommend legislative solutions. Meanwhile, America's biggest gun-rights lobbying group, the National Rifle Association, has not commented officially yet on the Oregon tragedy or the political firestorm it rekindled.

美國俄勒岡州一所社區學院上星期發生導致多人死傷的槍擊事件再次引發對槍支暴力這個政治上兩級分化的問題的關注。美國國會對這個問題的辯論將非常激烈,國會議員希望控制美國槍支濫用造成的死亡率。美國的這一比率在發達國家中最高。不過有關槍支管制立法的問題多年來一直沒有進展。

人們對俄勒岡的濫殺事件表達震驚和悲痛。安普夸社區學院學生薩拉說:"我說不清此刻的感覺。我很害怕。相當長的一段時間內我不想回到那里。"

幾個月之前,南卡羅來納州一所教堂發生導致多人死傷槍擊事件。近三年之前,有人在康涅狄格州一所小學開槍濫殺無辜。

美國總統奧巴馬說:"我們對此已經麻木不仁。"

奧巴馬臉上充滿憤怒表情,呼吁采取行動。他說:"讓這種事件在美國每隔幾個月發生一次,是我們所做的政治抉擇的結果。由于我們的不作為,我們所有人都應該對那些失去親人的家庭有責任。"

競選下屆美國總統的參選人紛飛針對槍支暴力表達觀點。希拉里•克林頓說:"我知道,制定合理的槍支管制措施,以避免暴力事件的發生,防止槍支落入壞人的手里,是有路可循的。"

共和黨總統參選人泰德•克魯茲將矛頭指向奧巴馬總統。他說:"他(奧巴馬)立刻趁機試圖將這幕慘劇政治化,而不是針對壞人和罪犯,還要試圖剝奪守法公民的憲法權利。"

共和黨參選人杰布•布什說:"事情總會發生。危機總會出現。人們沖動的時候總是要采取行動,但要做的未必是正確的。"

2013年,一項要更嚴格審查槍支購買者的法案在參議院被擁護持槍權利議員阻撓過關。如今在共和黨控制的國會,愿意考慮槍支管制立法的議員更少。

奧巴馬沒有知難而退。他說:"如果政治權斗不改變,民選官員的態度不改變,情況就不會有改觀。因此我重點要做的是經常講這個問題。"

眾議院民主黨領袖呼吁成立特別委員會,調查槍支暴力問題,并提出議案建議。與此同時,美國最大的公民持槍權游說團體美國來福槍協會目前還沒有對俄勒岡州的悲劇以及這起事件引發的政治風暴正式表態。

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