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Last week, House Democrats passed two gun control bills that would make it harder for Americans to purchase a firearm, and then almost immediately after the vote, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced another bill banning the sale of all “assault weapons.”
Since gaining control of both chambers, Congressional Democrats have wasted no time in attempting to implement key policy initiatives. Democrats in the House passed two gun control measures last week that would increase background checks on gun purchases and lengthen the time it takes to actually purchase a weapon.
H.R. 8, also known as the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021,” would require a background check for all firearms purchases in the United States. The bill passed the House in 2019, but did not pass the Senate.
H.R. 1446 would extend the amount of time given to complete a federal background check from three days to ten.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has vowed a vote on gun legislation, saying, “When they sent it over to us last time, it went into Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard. The legislative graveyard is over. H.R. 8 will be on the floor of the Senate, and we will see where everybody stands. No more hopes and prayers, thoughts and prayers. A vote is what we need, a vote, not thoughts and prayers.”
Despite its moniker, the “bipartisan” H.R. 8 only received 8 Republican votes.
Democrats claim that the legislation will save lives. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., whose son was shot and killed in 2012, said, “It has been two years since we stood together in the House chamber and voted to pass this common sense bill. Today, we once again take an historic step to protect our children, to protect our communities, and to save American lives.”
Republicans argue that the legislation is ineffective and infringes on Second Amendment rights. “As written now, H.R. 8 would not have prevented any of the mass shootings in Florida in recent years,” a press release from the office of Greg Steube, R-Fla., stated.
“The shooter in Parkland passed a background check before purchasing a firearm, the shooter at Pulse Nightclub passed a background check before purchasing a firearm, and the shooter just weeks ago that murdered five women in District 17 passed a background check before purchasing the handgun he used in the commission of that heinous crime.”
Republicans also claim that if Democrats were truly concerned about gun violence they would have included Steube’s amendment, which would have required that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) be notified when an illegal immigrant tries to buy a gun. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., allegedly shut off debate and the amendment was excluded.
Rep. Steube said, “In rejecting this amendment, the Democrats have shown their true colors. It is clear they are not interested in preventing gun violence or stopping the illegal purchase of firearms, but rather they are only interested in limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens to advance their own political agenda.”
Right after the House vote, Sen. Feinstein, joined by another 34 Democrats, proposed a bill in the Senate to ban the sale of “assault weapons,” which is not a technical term but a political one. The bill, which uses a complex, multi-faceted definition to describe what constitutes an “assault weapon,” lists 205 different firearms that would be unlawful to purchase in the future.
Included in the ban would be the popular AR-15 rifle and any weapon that can utilize a “high-capacity” magazine (anything over 10 rounds), including “semi-automatic” shotguns and pistols. The ban would also include attachments such as “bump stocks.” The law would not require gun owners to turn over their guns but would require them to be registered and would ban further sales of the guns.
Standing for Freedom Takeaway
Democrats such as Sen. Schumer are quick to scoff at “thoughts and prayers,” trying to portray anyone who does not support gun control measures as uncaring. Schumer’s condescending comments are meant to shame people into implementing his policy objective. Phrases such as “assault weapons” and “common sense” gun legislation are rhetorical tools meant to shape the debate.
In reality, the argument that these bills will decrease gun violence are suspect at best. If a criminal or unstable person wants a gun, there are plenty of other avenues to obtain a weapon, and no gun law will prevent them from acquiring one. Background checks also do nothing to prevent first-time criminals.
These measures are highly unlikely to get the 60 required votes in the Senate, but comments by Sen. Schumer are concerning. The Majority Leader recently said, “Maybe we will get the votes, and if we don’t, we’ll come together with the caucus and figure out how we are going to get this done.”
Some Democrats have voiced support for abolishing the filibuster or devising new ways to get around it, meaning Democrats would only need a simple majority to pass legislation.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has stated that he will not support killing the filibuster, saying, “At the end of the day, you understand the minority must have input, and it must be a process to get to that 60-vote threshold.” He indicated that the 60-vote requirement makes the Senate truly unique from other legislative bodies around the world.
Sen. Manchin is correct: The Founders intended that the Senate would engage in deliberative debate, forcing legislators to truly consider what they were trying to pass and make sure they had widespread support. Today’s governing class, and much of the American populace, believes that the solution to every problem is to pass another law and if Congress fails to pass a bevy of bills then they have not done their jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Constitution protects our rights from government interference and our government is designed so that laws are only passed when necessary.