Here are 4 gun reform policies U.S. advocates say could reduce violence

Click to play video: 'Warriors coach Steve Kerr asks after Texas school shooting: ‘When are we going to do something?’'
Warriors coach Steve Kerr asks after Texas school shooting: ‘When are we going to do something?’
WATCH: Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was visibly shaken Tuesday evening as he spoke about the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left at least 21 people — 19 of them students — dead when a gunman began shooting. "When are we going to do something?" he asked, seated before reporters at a pre-game news conference – May 25, 2022

A horrific mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, just days after mass shootings in New York State and California, is once again spurring calls for gun control reform — even as the prospects for change appear slim.

The slaying of 19 Grade 4 students and two teachers by an 18-year-old shooter on Tuesday quickly sparked what has now become routine: an outpouring of grief and horror on social media, as well as calls for changes to U.S. gun laws with no clear political path forward for any such policies.

America is in the midst of a pressure cooker primary season and mid-term election year, sharpening the stakes for politicians on both sides of the spectrum as well as voter anger over the continued bloodshed.

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But amid the rhetoric, there are some common themes in the calls for gun control reform.

Here are four of the proposals that experts say could make a difference.

What proposals might help?

According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, there are four gun control measures that get overwhelming public support, even if there isn’t the political will to act on them.

The Center cited their 2019 national survey of Americans which found 88 per cent of respondents support universal background checks for people buying firearms, 75 per cent support requiring licensing for handgun purchasers, and 74 per cent support requiring people to lock up their guns when not in use.

In addition, 80 per cent support what’s known as extreme risk protection orders.

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An extreme risk protection order is “a civil order with due process protections issued by a court when someone is at risk of violence to self or others,” the Center’s research notes.

States that implement extreme risk protection order laws would allow family or household members, significant others, law enforcement, school administrators, co-workers and health professionals to ask the courts to issue temporary restrictions on a person’s ability to access firearms.

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That order could be issued when an individual “is behaving dangerously and at the risk of committing violence,” and would let authorities both temporarily take a person’s firearms and prevent them from being able to buy new ones while the order is in effect.

Extreme risk protection orders are often referred to as “red flag laws.”

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a U.S. gun reform group, says interest in the laws has increased in the wake of several high-profile shootings including the Parkland high school shooting in 2018.

Thirteen states now have some form of red flag law.

Click to play video: 'Texas school shooting: Death toll rises to at least 21 as investigation into gunman continues'
Texas school shooting: Death toll rises to at least 21 as investigation into gunman continues

The group cited data from the use of the law in Connecticut which they said showed in cases of concern about suicide, “nearly one-third of respondents received critical mental health and substance abuse treatment as a result of the extreme risk law intervention.”

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“Through the same mechanism, worried parents, guardians, and siblings may take action through extreme risk laws to help prevent school shootings,” the advocacy group says.

Click to play video: 'Buffalo supermarket shooting: US politicians call for more action on gun control, violent extremism'
Buffalo supermarket shooting: US politicians call for more action on gun control, violent extremism

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility also pointed to expanded background checks and safe storage laws as among the crucial measures that would help to prevent and limit gun violence in the U.S.

“Currently, federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to conduct background checks on gun purchases to make sure that the purchaser is not prohibited from buying a firearm,” the group said.

“However, in some states, unlicensed sellers, like those at gun shows or on the internet, are not required to do so, leaving a dangerous loophole that allows prohibited purchasers to access deadly weapons.”

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Texas Gun Sense, an advocacy group working in the state, says Texas is one of the states that does not require background checks for gun sales at shows or online.

It also does not require background checks or permits to carry firearms in public.

Will policy change actually happen?

The American Psychological Association says the data is clear that such measures would make a difference, but also noted there is no one solution for gun violence in the U.S.

“Firearm prohibitions for high-risk groups — domestic violence offenders, persons convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes, and individuals with mental illness who have been adjudicated as being a threat to themselves or to others — have been shown to reduce violence,” the organization said.

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“The licensing of handgun purchasers, background check requirements for all gun sales, and close oversight of retail gun sellers can reduce the diversion of guns to criminals.”

The APA continued: “Reducing the incidence of gun violence will require interventions through multiple systems, including legal, public health, public safety, community, and health.”

A Pew Research poll from spring 2021 suggests even as gun violence continues, Americans remain deeply divided on gun reform, with 49 per cent of adults saying they believe there would be fewer mass shootings if it was harder to legally obtain a firearm, and 42 per cent saying it would make no difference.

That same survey noted two areas of broad support across partisan lines, however.

Eighty-five per cent of Republicans and 90 per cent of Democrats support preventing those with mental illness from purchasing guns, while 70 per cent of Republicans and 92 per cent of Democrats support requiring background checks on purchases via private gun sales or gun shows.

Whether there is a political appetite for those changes among party leaders, however, remains to be seen.

Tempers flared at a press conference about the shooting on Wednesday, when Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. Representative for Texas, confronted authorities gathered there to say the violence was “totally predictable” and that “you are doing nothing.”

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In response, one Texas official on the stage called O’Rourke “a sick son of a b****.”

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