The Current Status of Congressional Efforts to Pass Gun Control Legislation

Social Justice Policy Brief #145 | By: Inijah Quadri | April 5, 2023

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Policy Issue Summary

Gun control legislation has been a contentious issue in the United States for decades. As the debate surrounding the Second Amendment and its implications for American society continues, we will provide a thorough, fact-based analysis of the current status of congressional efforts to pass gun control legislation. This Brief will cover recent trends in mass shootings, the prevalence of gun ownership, the power of the Second Amendment, the role of weapons of mass destruction, and the impact of a gun violence reduction law signed by President Biden last year.

Gun Control Legislation

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Recent Trends in Mass Shootings

The United States has experienced a troubling increase in mass shootings over the past several years. High-profile incidents such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, and Nashville have sparked national conversations about gun control measures. According to the Gun Violence Archive, year on year, there is usually an uptick in mass shootings in the USA. This upward trend underscores the urgency for Congress to address gun control measures.


Gun Ownership and the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution has long been used to defend the right to bear arms. It states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” According to a recent Gallup poll, approximately 32% of Americans own guns, while 44% live in households with guns. This widespread ownership, coupled with the Second Amendment, complicates efforts to enact gun control legislation.


Weapons of Mass Destruction and Past Efforts to Ban Them

In addition to discussions about everyday firearms, the debate around gun control legislation often includes concerns about weapons of mass destruction. The United States has implemented several bans on such weapons in the past, including the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. This ban lasted from 1994 to 2004. However, attempts to reinstate similar bans have been met with resistance from pro-gun lobbyists and lawmakers.

Gun Control Legislation

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The Gun Violence Reduction Law and President Biden’s Stance

In 2022, President Biden signed a gun violence reduction Law, which aimed to reduce gun violence through a combination of measures such as background checks, increased mental health resources, and improved data collection. However, in a recent statement, Biden acknowledged that his hands are tied in enacting further gun control measures and that the responsibility lies with Congress.

Current Congressional Efforts and Challenges

Despite the urgency of the situation, congressional efforts to pass gun control legislation have been slow. Divisions along party lines and the influence of powerful pro-gun lobbying groups, such as the National Rifle Association, have stalled progress. While some bipartisan efforts have emerged, such as one aimed at closing the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows individuals to obtain firearms if their background checks are not completed within three days, they have not yet resulted in significant legislative changes. The good news, though, is that while this legislation has not yet been passed at the federal level, several states have recently closed this loophole.


Conclusion

The increasing prevalence of mass shootings and gun violence in the United States highlights the importance of addressing gun control measures. While efforts like the gun violence reduction law have been implemented, the responsibility for further action lies with Congress. As the debate surrounding gun control continues, it is essential to keep in mind the facts and the gravity of the situation. The future safety of American citizens depends on the decisions made by lawmakers and the public’s engagement in the conversation.

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