It was just one week ago that people everywhere woke up to horrifying news of what is now deemed the worst mass shooting in modern American history, as a gunman entered an Orlando nightclub and proceeded to kill 49 victims while injuring countless more—only one day after rising singer-songwriter Christina Grimmie was gunned down in the same city at her own show.
In the wake of these tragedies, many pushed for stricter gun control laws, and in just one week, proposals made their way to the United States Senate. However, yesterday [Monday, June 20, 2016] in a terrifying example of our nation’s serious lack of bipartisan support, the four measures brought to the floor were all rejected.
“What am I going to tell the community of Orlando?” said Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. “Sadly, what I’m going to tell them is the NRA won again.”
Despite both parties efforts to present proposals that would serve to tighten certain restrictions on buying firearms such as broader background checks, and making it harder for people on the terrorist watchlist to buy firearms, a compromise couldn’t be reached as votes, falling along party lines, led to the denial of any changes.
“We all agree that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms,” said Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist. “We should all agree that law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a secret government list should not be denied their constitutional right to due process. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. It is shocking that the safety of the American people is taking a backseat to political theatre.”
The first bill, S.Amdt.4751, proposed by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would have served “to address gun violence and improve the availability of records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System”, focusing on opening the lines of communication between the background check agency that Congress set up in the 1990s, the federal courts, the states and Congress to better carry out background checks.
The next, S.Amdt.4750, proposed by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), had the purpose of ensuring “that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale.” This simply meant that background checks would be required or everyone. Period.
The final two were simply partisan versions for the same cause: keeping suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms.
S.Admt.4749, brought by Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.), proposed the SHIELD initiative, to “Secure our Homeland from radical Islamists by Enhancing Law enforcement Detection”. Under this bill, anyone on any of the FBI’s terror watchlists could be prohibited from buying a firearm for 72 hours, giving law enforcement time to present probable cause to a federal judge.
The Democratic version, S.Admt.4720, proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), states its purpose as being “to authorize the Attorney General to deny requests to transfer a firearm to known or suspected terrorists”. This simply allows the Attorney general control to deny anyone on any terror watch list a firearm. Anyone who would feel they are on a list by mistake can challenge the FBI’s decision in court.
“Instead of getting help from their elected officials, our constituents see a disturbing pattern of inaction,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “It’s always the same. After each tragedy we try–we Democrats–try to pass sensible gun safety measures. Sadly, our efforts are blocked by the Republicans in Congress who take their marching orders from the National Rifle Association.”