Senate Republicans, led by Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, have thwarted two significant pieces of gun control legislation proposed by Senate Democrats. This setback comes as the United States records the highest number of mass shootings in its history within a single year. The late Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California had initially introduced the proposed assault weapons ban, which intended to prohibit semiautomatic rifles possessing certain features, including pistol grips and the ability to attach grenade launchers or suppressors.
Objections to the Assault Weapons Ban
Barrasso defended his opposition to the ban by arguing that it would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. He claimed the ban was an overreach because it was based on the appearance of the firearms. He maintained that popular rifles, such as AR-15s, function in the same manner as popular shotguns and other rifles used for hunting and personal protection.
Universal Background Checks Rebuffed
Democrats' efforts to pass universal background checks for firearm purchases were similarly squashed. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut championed this cause, pointing out that a majority of Americans from both political spectrums support such measures. He cited a Gallup poll showing 92% of Americans in favor of these regulations.
However, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah countered these arguments, stating that the proposed legislation would problematically extend to private transactions. He used the example of passing down a hunting rifle between family members. Ultimately, both legislative efforts were halted by objections on the Senate floor. The blocking of these gun control measures, despite widespread public support, underscores the deep-seated divisions in the Senate and the formidable challenges faced by advocates of gun control in their endeavor to curb gun violence in America.