Deadly U.S. Shooting Unlikely To Spark Major Gun Debate, Experts Say

A mass shooting in the U.S. state of Virginia on Friday is unlikely to cause a major debate on gun control, as the public has become used to news of gun violence and is unlikely to clamor for change to gun laws, experts have said.

Twelve people were shot dead Friday when a gunman opened fire at a government building in the city of Virginia Beach. Authorities so far said they do not know the shooter's motive.

Republicans and Democrats are at odds over the issue, with Democrats calling for more gun legislation, and Republicans fearing that more laws might not lessen the violence, but instead infringe on rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

While Democrats have been vocal on gun control since Friday's shootings, their outrage is likely to die down when headlines start to fade, experts said.

Gun control is simply not on most voters' radars in the lead-up to the 2020 elections, TV news personality and Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

He noted that polls show only 5 percent of Americans view gun control as a major issue, while healthcare, jobs and immigration top the list of voters' priorities. While Democrats may introduce bills on a national level, experts said they won't go far in a divided Congress.

The United States is more likely to see laws enacted on a state level than on a national level, O'Connell said.

"I think you're going to have real battles in some of the Senate races," but not on the national level, he said.

"It's an issue of importance to some voters, but I don't think it's going to decide the 2020 election. It may have more salience in certain key Senate races, but it's not going to be the reason Trump wins or loses."

On the state level, the legislation conversation has become more robust since last year's Parkland school shooting, with eight states having passed "red flag laws," allowing for temporary but immediate disarmament of individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Analysis & Political Strategy