Posted by 23 March 2021
In the wake of a shooting in Boulder, Colorado, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would outlaw certain types of semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines. He also wants federal background checks to cover more gun sales. Such legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Banning semi-automatic weapons with certain military features, often labeled as “assault weapons,” has long been something that Democrats have wanted enacted. The House of Representatives also recently passed two bills that would mandate federal background checks on more gun purchases and transfers. However, there is resistance in the Senate to passing such legislation.
Proponents of these bills argue that they will help stop gun violence. They point to mass shooters using assault weapons to commit their crimes and argue that banning these guns would save lives. Opponents, however, contend that the only thing that makes a semi-automatic gun an “assault weapon” is how it looks, since the ban is focused on cosmetic features. They note that criminals and mass shooters will evade gun control laws, which will only disarm law-abiding people.
With the House of Representatives controlled by Democrats, it has been easy to move gun control legislation through that chamber. When the Senate was controlled by Republicans, they had no desire to bring up any of these bills for a vote. Now that the Senate is evenly divided, Republicans cannot block gun control. However, Democrats from states like West Virginia, Arizona, and Montana -- which all have significant gun-owning populations -- are reluctant to support bills that impose new federal laws on guns.
Do you think federal gun control laws should be stricter?