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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.

美国俄勒冈州一所社区学院上星期发生导致多人死伤的枪击事件再次引发对枪支暴力这个政治上两级分化的问题的关注。美国国会对这个问题的辩论将非常激烈,国会议员希望控制美国枪支滥用造成的死亡率。美国的这一比率在发达国家中最高。不过有关枪支管制立法的问题多年来一直没有进展。

人们对俄勒冈的滥杀事件表达震惊和悲痛。安普夸社区学院学生萨拉说:"我说不清此刻的感觉。我很害怕。相当长的一段时间内我不想回到那里。"

几个月之前,南卡罗来纳州一所教堂发生导致多人死伤枪击事件。近三年之前,有人在康涅狄格州一所小学开枪滥杀无辜。

美国总统奥巴马说:"我们对此已经麻木不仁。"

奥巴马脸上充满愤怒表情,呼吁采取行动。他说:"让这种事件在美国每隔几个月发生一次,是我们所做的政治抉择的结果。由于我们的不作为,我们所有人都应该对那些失去亲人的家庭有责任。"

竞选下届美国总统的参选人纷飞针对枪支暴力表达观点。希拉里•克林顿说:"我知道,制定合理的枪支管制措施,以避免暴力事件的发生,防止枪支落入坏人的手里,是有路可循的。"

共和党总统参选人泰德•克鲁兹将矛头指向奥巴马总统。他说:"他(奥巴马)立刻趁机试图将这幕惨剧政治化,而不是针对坏人和罪犯,还要试图剥夺守法公民的宪法权利。"

共和党参选人杰布•布什说:"事情总会发生。危机总会出现。人们冲动的时候总是要采取行动,但要做的未必是正确的。"

2013年,一项要更严格审查枪支购买者的法案在参议院被拥护持枪权利议员阻挠过关。如今在共和党控制的国会,愿意考虑枪支管制立法的议员更少。

奥巴马没有知难而退。他说:"如果政治权斗不改变,民选官员的态度不改变,情况就不会有改观。因此我重点要做的是经常讲这个问题。"

众议院民主党领袖呼吁成立特别委员会,调查枪支暴力问题,并提出议案建议。与此同时,美国最大的公民持枪权游说团体美国来福枪协会目前还没有对俄勒冈州的悲剧以及这起事件引发的政治风暴正式表态。

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