While congressional Republicans do absolutely nothing to stop Donald Trump’s government shutdown, their Democratic colleagues are hard at work trying to stop gun violence. Earlier this week, they led a bipartisan effort to introduce gun safety legislation that would require background checks for gun sales and transfers.
The Washington Post notes that this is one of the first actions taken by the new House Democratic majority. The bill had the support of Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, who was shot at a constituent event in Tucson eight years ago. After the shooting, which killed six people and wounded 15, Giffords went on to become a prominent gun safety activist and the founder of Giffords, an organization dedicated to fighting gun violence. She was present on the House floor on Tuesday night when her former colleagues introduced the bill. They recognized Giffords’ courage and held a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Tucson shooting.
The bill even had the support of five Republicans. Though their party is absolutely beholden to the NRA and the gun lobby, its good to know that at least five of them had the good sense to support this bill. In the words of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “Gun violence is an epidemic that requires the energy and engagement of the entire nation.”
One of the freshman Democratic representatives who co-sponsored the bill was Georgia’s Lucy McBath. McBath is a gun rights activist whose son, Jordan Davis, was killed seven years ago in Florida. Davis, a black teenager, was at a gas station with friends when he was killed by a white man who shot at them in reaction to the loud music playing in their car. At a press conference about the bill, McBath said that gun sales without background checks allow guns to end up in the hands of violent criminals, and that expanding background checks will lead to safer communities and save lives. She said that she was co-sponsoring the bill for her son and for the safety of all families across the country: “States that have already expanded background checks have lowered their homicide rates, their murder rates, and their gun trafficking. Background checks empower law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and domestic abusers. Quite simply, background checks save lives.”
Sadly, it’s a stretch to think that this will pass in the Senate. But Democrats will try. On Tuesday, 41 Democratic senators introduced their own legislation to require background checks for gun sales. Of course, gun-happy Republicans will put up a fight—even though most Americans support some form of gun safety legislation. But Republicans aren’t in the business of doing what the American people actually want, instead choosing to align themselves with the corporate interests that make them rich(er). Still, it’s a worthy goal, and it’s good to see Democrats live up to their campaign promise to make gun safety a priority. Maybe this time around, with a Democratic majority in the House coupled with extensive grassroots activism, we may finally make progress on this issue.
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