One of the hottest topics in Congress this past summer was gun control, directly following the horrific mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub. Senate Democrats filibustered for 15 hours, and House Democrats held a sit-in on the House floor that lasted over 24 hours in attempts to pass some small gun control measures. This push for gun bills paralleled debates that were sparked by mass shootings last year and many years before that. Yet once again, we saw no meaningful progress on gun control legislation.
Gun rights proponents feel entitled to own guns because of the Second Amendment, which guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. However, like every constitutional right, the right to own guns should be limited when it begins to interfere with the rights and well-being of other Americans. Gun ownership should never be entirely outlawed, but there is nothing unconstitutional about controlling who can get a gun, and how, to protect the lives of the innocent. Even slightly reducing the number of criminals with access to guns will save many innocent lives.
In the long fight to pass gun control legislation, plenty of commonsense gun control measures have been voted down. For example, Republican Senator Susan Collins tried to create a bipartisan compromise with her gun control legislation that would delay any attempts by suspects on the FBI’s terrorist watch list to purchase firearms. However, the bill never made it out of the Senate. Preventing suspected terrorists from buying guns until further investigation seems reasonable. Another proposal that was struck down was a measure that required a background check for private gun sales, thus closing the “gun show loophole.” Both of these laws provide compromise by letting law-abiding citizens continue to purchase firearms while also limiting the number of criminals who can buy guns.
Any responsible gun owner understands the dangers guns pose when placed in the wrong hands. That is why, according to a poll conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, 84 percent of gun owners supported universal background checks for all gun sales. The reason gun control bills are always shut down, despite the included measures having such large public backing, has mostly to do with the influence of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers. They have an incredible amount of money and lobbying power, allowing them to essentially control the debate. As Americans continue to be killed by gun violence, politicians will have to evaluate whether they should still be paying more attention to the gun lobby than their own citizens.
Unfortunately, it does not seem like gun violence will end any time soon in America. However, we can strengthen gun regulations to stem some of these senseless killings. These small gun control measures are common sense and need to be enacted.