If you’ve been watching the news, you know that gun control has been a hot topic lately. In the wake of the Orlando terror attack, which killed 49 civilians, both Republicans and Democrats have been pushing different gun measures in attempt to prevent mass shootings.
The senate voted on four separate gun-related bills this past Monday. The first bill was proposed by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and authorizes the attorney general to deny a gun transfer to a known or suspected terrorist. The Democrats believe this is a common sense measure that would keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. On the other hand, the Republicans claim that you cannot use the terror watch list to deny citizens their right to bear arms as the terror watch list is known for being inaccurate. Anyone can wind up on the terror watch list, even an eight-year-old Boy Scout or an eighteen-month-old girl. Additionally, Republicans assert that denying an individual of their right to bear arms without due process is a violation of both the fifth amendment and fourteenth amendment. The Due Process Clause states that the government shall not “deprive anyone of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” In other words, people are innocent until proven guilty. The end result was that the bill failed to pass after Republicans voted it down. Shortly after, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted that the Senate Republicans have “decided to sell weapons to ISIS.”
Following the vote on Senator Feinstein’s bill, Republican Senator John Cornyn offered an alternative measure, the SHIELD Act, which would require that law enforcement is informed whenever someone on the terror watch list attempts to purchase a gun. Furthermore, if an individual attempting to purchase a gun has been investigated for terrorism at anytime within the past five years, the attorney general can delay the sale for 72 hours while the court reviews it. The Democrats voted this bill down and Senator Feinstein argued that the SHIELD Act was not enough, as it would “cut out a lot of people who are probable threats.”
The third gun measure which the Senate voted on this past Monday was introduced by Republican Chuck Grassley. Grassley’s amendment sought to improve the National Criminal Instant Background Check System by providing additional funding and resources, as well as incentivizing states to share mental health records. Democrats voted down this bill, insisting that it would not do enough to stop potential terrorists or criminals from buying a gun. In my opinion, if the Democrats really wanted to do something, they would have voted for this anyways. It may not be enough in their book, but it is better than nothing. Even the left leaning online magazine, The Slate, criticized the Democrats for voting against the Republican’s alternative measures.
The final gun-related bill voted on by the Senate this past Monday was proposed by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. The purpose of Murphy’s bill was to close the “gun-show loophole” by requiring background checks on the transfer of purchases between private parties. However, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, no such law has helped to prevent mass shootings. The Republicans voted against this bill and it failed to pass.
After all four gun measures failed to pass the Senate, the debate moved over to the House where Democrats staged a sit-in lasting 24 hours. FFL Cabinet Member, Danielle Butcher has something to say about it. In the meantime, lets hope our congress members, whose salaries are paid for with our tax dollars, can start acting like adults.