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Demand Effective Gun Control

Last week, the public hearings of the January 6th committee began, and so far, the evidence against former President Trump has been devastating and convincing. In fact, the most surprising thing shown during the hearings was an unexpected competence from the Democrats and Republican conducting the hearings. We will wait, however, to discuss the details and implications until later this month when more hearings have occurred. Instead, our attention turns to the weekend’s other breaking news: the Senate reached an agreement on gun control legislation!

The agreement, which to be clear is not a piece of legislation, apparently has the backing of 10 Republican Senators along with the entire Democratic caucus, providing the possibility of breaking the GOP filibuster and successfully passing into law. The narrowly focused agreement includes enhanced background checks for prospective gun buyers under the age of 21, and extend a provision prohibiting domestic abusers having guns to dating partners, not just spouses. Funding would also be provided for states to enact red flag laws, preventing people deemed to be dangerous from obtaining firearms, as well as for mental health resources and to increase safety and mental health services at schools.

Majority Leader Senator Schumer has promised to bring legislation to the floor for a vote once the language has been hammered out, and if it passes it will be the first real peace of national gun legislation in over 25 years. All of this certainly sounds like a major breakthrough, and it’s being covered that way in much of the media, but before we get too carried away congratulating Congress, let’s make sure they follow through, and Do Something!

As mentioned near the beginning of the email, the Senate has reached an “agreement” which is neither specific legislation, nor passed law. Each of the proposed items above will need to be meticulously argued over, with some potentially removed before the legislation is finalized. Then we need to count on the good faith of 10 Republicans standing strong and voting for the final legislation, always a precarious proposition. As anyone paying even a modicum of attention to politics knows, neither of these steps are guaranteed in our highly dysfunctional system. But let us for the moment embrace optimism and assume the celebratory articles not premature, and furthermore, that once the legislation passes it will successfully stand-up to challenges in court. What then, will the legacy of this legislation be?

First, no one can deny that these provisions, separately and combined, will definitely save lives. We as gun control advocates know that there is no panacea to gun violence, and that preventing death and trauma will require a constellation of legislation, aimed at tackling the myriad of factors which lead to this American epidemic. Simultaneously, however, we must recognize that this legislation is nothing impressive. It is not the whole loaf, or even half, but instead the proverbial crumbs of gun control legislation. And while it is important that we pass this legislation, it must be with the understanding that this is a pebble with which we hope to spark an avalanche of gun reform nationwide.

We cannot be satisfied until the American people are heard, and real gun reform is undertaken. We, the people, want universal background checks, required red flag laws, and closing the gun-show loopholes in near unanimity. And we want so much more, we want to live in a society where it’s safe to send our kids to school or to go shopping or to the movie theater, or frankly, anyplace public. We must change this barbaric culture of violence and fear in which we have found ourselves collectively trapped.

In order to get the change, we desire: the Senate’s anemic legislation today, expanded gun legislation tomorrow, and eventually a truly representative and responsive government it will take organized and enduring collective action, not just politically, but economically. So join us each Tuesday as we build the economic cudgel to stand alongside our collective political might. With this one-two punch, together we can force our government to take action and do its job in protecting our children!

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