Last Sunday, a former member of the U.S. Air Force with a violent past opened fire on a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people, including numerous children.
That shooting was far from the first of its kind. On October 1, a gunman opened fire from an upper level hotel room in Las Vegas on a crowd of attendees of a country music festival down below, killing nearly 60 people and wounding hundreds more.
Among other high profile incidents, it’s been barely a year since a gunman opened fire on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people.
There’s one commonality between all of these incidents — the shooters all used either a semi-automatic weapon or a device that altered their weapon of choice to make it more like an automatic weapon.
Overall, in gun violence since January 1 of this year, 13,253 people have been killed.
After seemingly never-ending inaction from Congressional Republicans, a broad coalition of Senate Democrats have now cooperated to introduce a bill banning assault weapons and “bump stocks,” those devices that transform non-automatic weapons into something more like true military-grade assault weapons.
There is no real reason for these items to be on the streets; to use a common argument, when the founders of the United States wrote the Second Amendment and enshrined the right to bear arms in the Constitution, they did not mean for it to cover the then-nonexistent modern assault weapon.
Were the newly introduced Democratic Senate bill to pass, it wouldn’t even be the first time that the United States has had an assault weapons ban in place. There was one in place from 1994 through 2004, but it was not renewed thanks to, according to California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the lobbying efforts of the infamously trigger-happy National Rifle Association.
Sen. Feinstein, who serves as chief Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered the following comments on the occasion of the bill’s introduction:
‘We’re introducing an updated assault weapons ban for one reason: so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for a debate and a vote.’
As she added, the fact that Republicans act as though the right to own a firearm is at least as important as Americans’ right to life is despicable. Congresspeople are supposed to represent their constituents, not the gun lobby.
‘To those who say now isn’t the time, they’re right — we should have extended the original ban 13 years ago, before hundreds more Americans were murdered with these weapons of war. To my colleagues in Congress, I say do your job.’
Remember — Feinstein’s bill isn’t representative of some sort of Democratic conspiracy to steal Americans’ guns, no matter how many Trump supporters suggest otherwise.
Should the bill be enacted, it would allow all who already lawfully possess the items to be strictly regulated to keep their weapons — those weapons would just be barred from transfers that might end with weapons in the hands of those who should not have them.
Sen. Feinstein is hardly the first Democratic leader to call out her Republican colleagues over their inaction on the need for sensible gun control in light of America’s gun violence epidemic.
Earlier this week, when the House of Representatives held a moment of silence in honor of the Sutherland Springs victims, the already often outspoken California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu walked out, going live on his Facebook page for a short time and insisting that his House colleagues pass something similar to the bill just introduced by Democratic Senators.
Republicans, of course, have plenty of “thoughts and prayers” to offer throughout this whole ordeal.
How long will it take for Republicans to translate their “thoughts and prayers” into action?
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