Starting with more stringent background checks, democrats are using their majority votes in the House and Senate respectively to try push for a new law on gun control in more than two decades.
On Thursday, a bill was passed by the house to ensure that the sales and transfers of firearms are properly investigated. Also, the chamber is voting on and will pass a bill allowing for an extra 10-day review for the procurement of firearms. In 2019, immediately the Democrats got the power of the majority, the House passed some bills that were similar to this, while for the next two years, the GOP-controlled Senate did not allow this bill to pass.
Seeing as democrats now hold the majority in the Senate also, the party is hopeful that the bill will be passed this year. For this bill to pass, there’s need for a significant number of bipartisan support.
Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that saw 20 children and six educators killed, Democrats and some Republicans are at the helm of this new push for more stringent laws guiding the use of firearms, although they had tried and failed severally in the past. Congress has still not been able to come to a concession on the issue of enhanced background checks, even though majority of the American populace or even some conservatives are no strangers to them. Seeing as there’s need for a 60 percent vote to pass the gun control bill, the chances of Democrats in the Senate getting enough support from the Republicans in a 50-50 Senate is still not quite clear.
Democrats are showing off their new congressional power
Democrats are using these bills to lay hold on a lot of concerns in the legislator while also gaining ground in the chamber of Congress and the White House. On Thursday, the Senate Majority leader made a statement that the Republican “legislative graveyard is over” and that the Senate will vote to pass a bill that background checks should be done on the sales of firearms.
Schumer said “A vote is what we need,” and that they’ll know the role Republicans have to play in this
“Maybe we’ll get the votes,” he said. “And if we don’t, we’ll come together as a caucus and figure it out how we are going to get this done. But we have to get it done.”
According to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif who with Schumer has been working on the gun legislation since the 1990s when they were both in the House, she and her contemporaries made a promise to the survivors of the shootings and the family members of the deceased that until the bill on background checks is passed “we are not going away”
A statement was made on Wednesday, during the floor debate of the bills by Pelosi that “The gun violence crisis in America is a challenge to the conscience of our country – one that demands that we act,” and that “These solutions will save lives.”
Biden Chimes In
President Joe Biden in February made a statement while giving a speech that there was no need for time wasting, while calling on the Congress to reinforce gun laws and this includes doing background checks on the purchase of firearms and the ban of assault weapons.
Biden had this to say during the three-year anniversary of the Parkland School Shooting massacre in Florida that took 17 lives “We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change,” “The time to act is now.”
They design of the first bill which passed 227-203 is done in such a way that there should be no loopholes, making sure that background checks are also done on guns sold privately, online and at gun shows because these ones usually go unnoticed. In order to prevent imminent harm, the legislation also made sure that temporary transfers, those buying as gifts for family and friends and to use at target range among others are exempted from the rule.
There will be an extension of the review period for background checks from 3 days to 10 with this second bill. After nine people were killed at a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, the legislation was introduced by South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House. Going by the FBI’s overview of the entire event, it was reported that due to the incorrect arresting agency listed in the state criminal history records, prior reports of arrests of the shooter did not get to the background check examiner, and after a 3 days deadline, the gun merchant has every legal right to complete the transaction.
Although the House bills have the backings of Republicans cosponsors, a lot of their GOP colleagues do not support these changes. It was argued by Republicans at the Wednesday floor debate that a lot of this mass shootings could not be stopped by just doing background checks alone, but rather it could hinder the purchase of firearms for those who are within their rights to own guns.
According to Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry, the bill will lead to more crime because there would be “less people out there defending themselves.”
There’s hope amongst Democrats that there will be a gradual political shift among voters that will help them in their bid to gain votes for GOP. A companion bill was introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to expand background checks in the Senate, he also went further to say that Democrats should not give up hope on the Senate getting 60 votes for the bill to pass through.
Ahead of the House vote, Murphy said “I just think we are living in a different world than 2013,” in reference to the failure of the Congress to add extra checks after the shooting in Newtown school.
Democrats also pointed out the issues a powerful long-standing advocacy group that are staunch Trump supporters who spent millions of dollars making sure Trump was elected in 2016 were having. This organization is having legal issues with their finances and are also having serious discord amongst themselves.
GOP backs “Shall not be infringed”
Due to the fact that a lot of people at the GOP base are still very much opposed to any new gun control, the Senate is not having it easy in respect to passing the bill. Both Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania who have been working tirelessly together for quite a while now for there to be a concession on the issue of background checks have still not come up with any solution that will allow the bill to pass.
According to Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who is the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, there’s going to be a hearing on gun policy in the upcoming weeks.
Durbin also said that Democrats will “test the waters and see what the sentiment is in the Senate.”