Democrats are ready to use their new majority in the House of Representatives to take action on gun safety legislation in order to make schools, theaters, halls of worship, and everywhere else a little bit safer.
But not a single Republican is willing to support legislation banning high-capacity magazines like those used in the deadly 2017 Las Vegas massacre that killed 58 people and injured hundreds.
On Tuesday, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced the Keep Americans Safe Act, which would ban any magazine with more than 10 bullets. Access to these magazines makes shooters “dramatically more dangerous,” Deutch told CNN in a recent interview, because they can fire more shots without pausing to reload.
There are no Republican cosponsors of the measure.
That was also the case last year, when similar bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate. On the House side, 109 members cosponsored the bill, but not a single Republican. On the Senate side, there were 29 cosponsors, and again, not a single Republican.
One cosponsor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), described high-capacity magazines as “force multipliers for evil” at a Tuesday press conference announcing the reintroduction of the bills. He noted that over the years, children have escaped school shooters when the shooter needed to pause and reload their guns.
The more bullets a magazine can hold, the more deadly a mass shooter can be. But Republicans in Congress aren’t interested in taking even this small step to save lives.
Half of all mass shooters in the country have a high-capacity magazine, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), another cosponsor of the bill, noted at the press conference.
In a statement announcing her support of the legislation, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) said that high-capacity magazines have no other purpose but to “wreak havoc” — and that they “make it nearly impossible for law enforcement to respond to active shooters.”
At the press conference, Deutch thanked all the young people who are taking action on the issue of gun safety because they are “tired of seeing their friends die around them.” Deutch’s district is home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, where a horrific mass shooting almost one year ago drove surviving students to organize the March for Our Lives, one of the largest gun safety rallies in the country’s history, and spark a nationwide movement for gun safety.
Gun safety organizations praised Democrats in Congress for reintroducing the legislation.
“We’re thrilled that leaders in the 116th Congress are standing up for the safety of their constituents by introducing gun safety legislation,” Stacey Radnor, public affairs director for Everytown for Gun Safety, told Shareblue. Radnor praised Deutch, Menendez, and others for “taking a stand and working to tackle our nation’s gun violence crisis by supporting legislation that will help save lives.”
“If our country is serious about addressing our devastating gun violence crisis, we must start by having a serious conversation about the type of weapons we’re making available on our streets,” David Chipman, senior policy advisor at Gifford, a gun safety advocacy organization, said in a statement.
The new Democratic majority is proving that it’s ready to take gun safety issues seriously. Earlier this month, House members held a hearing on gun safety for the first time in almost a decade. That hearing was focused on universal background checks, another top priority of advocates to ensure guns don’t fall into the hands of criminals.
The bills show the “unprecedented momentum” toward ending the epidemic of gun violence in America, Charlie Mirsky, political director for March for Our Lives, said at the press conference.
Gun safety became a major, nationwide campaign issue in 2018 after several high-profile mass shootings, including the ones in Parkland and Las Vegas.
The hard work of gun safety advocates paid off, as NRA-backed candidates across the country lost — and Congress is now moving forward on an issue so important to so many families.
If only Republicans would bother to lift a finger and help.
Published with permission of The American Independent.
IMAGE: AR-15 type rifle magazines, (top to bottom) 10-round, 20-round and 30-round, are displayed at Chris’ Indoor Shooting Range in Guilford, CT. REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin/File Photo