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Gun violence in America continues unabated

Police escort shoppers and employees out of the Columbia Mall after a shooting left three people dead, Jan. 25, 2014, in Columbia, Md.
Police escort shoppers and employees out of the Columbia Mall after a shooting left three people dead, Jan. 25, 2014, in Columbia, Md.

A deadly shooting Saturday about 30 miles from the nation’s capital came nearly a full year after President Obama made gun control a centerpiece of his 2013 State of the Union address.

Three people, including the suspected gunman, were killed in Saturday’s shooting, which occurred at a mall in Columbia, Md., police said. NBC News reported that the shooting was an apparent domestic incident and not a random shooting.

It was a grim reminder, just days before the president is set to deliver the State of the Union, that gun violence in America proceeds unabated.

The new year is barely three weeks old, and there have already been eight school shootings.

Last week alone saw three such incidents. On Monday, a student was injured in a shooting at Widener University outside of Philadelphia. On Tuesday, a student at Purdue University in Indiana was shot and killed on campus. On Friday, a student was shot near a dorm at South Carolina State University. He later died.

When added to the 28 school shootings in 2013 and last September's mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, little seems different from when Obama made reducing gun violence a major component of his last State of the Union.

With the horror of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School fresh in the minds of the American public, the president touted gun control measures that he said were supported by “overwhelming majorities of Americans” -- including those who ardently support the Second Amendment.

But those measures ultimately failed, despite impassioned pleas from advocates, among them the parents of children murdered in the Newtown, Conn. shooting.

Congress had a notoriously unproductive year on many fronts, but it was notable that the National Rifle Association and pro-gun lobbying groups were able to shut down even the weakest of regulatory compromises, despite the fact that the public overwhelmingly supported them and 2013 saw more than one mass shooting every month.

The fight over new gun control laws and regulations has shifted away from the Capitol to the nation’s statehouses. Twenty-one states, led by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, enacted new legislation to combat gun violence, according to a study released in December.

Previews of Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday indicate the president’s message will focus on economic opportunity and growth. When asked if guns would be a topic in the speech, the White House did not go into specifics about what will be included.

After the Navy Yard shooting, which left 12 people dead, Obama acknowledged mass shootings have become seemingly commonplace. He urged Americans to reject the notion that they are an unavoidable part of American life.

“Alongside the anguish of these American families, alongside the accumulated outrage we feel, I fear there is a creeping resignation that these tragedies are somehow just the way it is, that this is the new normal,” Obama said in a speech after the shooting. “We can’t accept this. We must insist here, today, that there is nothing normal about innocent men and women being gunned down where they work.”

On Saturday, as yet another deadly shooting unfolded, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone echoed that sentiment.

“My concern is that this becomes such a norm that people think, Well that’s the way it is and nothing can be done,” Pallone said on MSNBC. “I mean, I want people to understand that Congress can take action on gun safety, and it will make a difference. .... I think we just have to keep electing people and making the point that you’ve got to be an advocate for those three common sense proposals: a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks, and some limitations on the ammunition.”