Gun Control: The Debate begins again

By: Lucas Green | Contributor

The debate over gun control laws has almost become a yearly tradition as the argument rears its ugly head again over the past two weeks. This time the debate was sparked following the tragic mass shootings in Boulder, CO., and Atlanta, GA., that left 18 people dead.

Gun control legislation has been one of the hottest button topics in politics over the past few years. Polling has indicated that gun control bills rarely follow democratic party lines and usually underperform said party-line. Additionally, those against gun control tend to be more engaged in such legislation and preventing various forms of gun control laws from being passed. This polling is reflective of the general populous and Congress and creates real barriers for legislation.

When President Biden was a Democratic Senator from Delaware, he introduced a bill calling for an assault rifle ban in 1994. His bill ultimately passed but expired in 2005. Now President Biden is calling for stricter gun control legislation again. 

“The only gun control legislation that’s ever passed is mine. It’s going to happen again,” President Biden told reporters at the White House on Sunday, March 28, 2021.

Two bills expanding universal background checks for the sale of all firearms (Private and Public) have passed the House of Representatives and now await approval by the Senate. The Senate floor is where gun control legislation reaches its main hurdle as there is not only a filibuster in place that would require 60 “yes” votes on the bills, but there is unrest in both parties when it comes to passing the bills.

(Dem.) Joe Manchin of West Virginia is openly opposed to the two bills as they are currently worded, and he is likely not the only Senate Democrat who feels this way. Meanwhile, (Dem.) Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the senator who introduced these two bills, has told the press that there are several GOP members who he expects to vote for these bills and for people to not “count us out.”

Some Senators have even tried proposing other forms of gun control legislation that are not included in the two current bills. (Dem.) Dianne Feinstein from California has suggested re-introducing the same 1994 Assault Rifle ban that President Biden introduced during his time as a Senator. (Rep.) Ted Cruz and (Rep.) Chuck Grassley of Iowa has presented Cruz’s “Red Flag” bill as an alternative to the two bills currently on the floor. Cruz’s bill would restrict gun ownership for individuals labeled “Red Flags” without affecting regular citizens.

While talks over who will and who won’t vote for the two current gun control bills continue to spiral, the country continues to wait anxiously for an answer. If the previous polls looking at the voting trends for gun control remain faithful, there likely will not be any change to the current gun laws. There is hope for those that want stricter gun legislation, though. During last Wednesday’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki if President Biden would consider using executive action to pass some sort of gun control after the Senate makes a decision on the two bills, or if he would take action beforehand. Psaki responded by saying, “He’s not waiting for anything to fail.”