Gun Control Debate: Gun Control Hits Roadblock, But This is Not the End
The gun control movement hit a major roadblock last Wednesday when Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) brought a bill regarding background checks for gun-owners to the floor of the Senate.
The amendment failed 54 to 46, falling six votes short of the 60-vote threshold required to break a filibuster.
However, against popular belief, the vote was not strictly based on party lines. Several senators including Toomey, McCain (R-Ariz.), Kirk (R-Ill.), Collins (R-Maine), Begich (D-Alaska), Pryor (D-Ark.), Baucus (D-Mont.), and Heitkamp (D-N.D.) went against the grain of their party and voted across the aisle.
However, after the vote, President Obama held a press conference scolding legislators for striking down the bill rebuking the senators and claiming they "caved to the pressure" of the powerful gun lobby.
Opponents of the legislation, from both parties, believe that putting more background checks in place will not actually solve the problem; but rather, restrict our Second Amendment rights. President Obama condemning legislators for holding true to their conscious portrays him in a bad light, and makes him seem like a bully.
"Most of these senators could not offer any good reason for why we wouldn't want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun," Obama continued, rebuking the legislators.
If President Obama wants the legislation to move forward, he is going to have to reach across the aisle to Republicans and Democrats alike to provide sensible reforms that we can all agree to, and not just push universal background checks.
Background checks are not the best type of reform that we can come up with. Criminals usually don't obtain their guns legally, so background checks will only affect law-abiding citizens. Take the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut as an example; the shooter stole guns from his mother. Background checks would not have stopped him.
"Criminals do not submit to background checks now," claimed Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "They will not submit to expanded background checks," he added.
We need to look at all angles of the issue and come up with the best possible way to get help for these troubled individuals. This means having a national discussion not just about gun safety, but mental health as well.
However, with all the polls coming out showing overwhelming support for background checks, one can only wonder why this bill failed.
According to Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, director of social policy and politics for Third Way, the problem is that people just aren't really that passionate about the issue. When asked if policies would be effective in reducing crime, most respondents said no.
"People will support this and they think it's a good idea, but they don't feel super deeply about it," Hatalsky said. "They're not convinced that it will necessarily work and that it will work to change their own lives."
A January Pew Research poll confirms that gun control ranks near the bottom of the average voter's priorities.
Even with the lack of interest from the public, I think we are definitely going to be seeing more gun control proposals coming down the pipes in the next few months.
After all, once the measure failed Vice President Joe Biden promised the American people, "This is far from over. This is far from over."
Though the outcome of the gun control conversation is not clear, one thing is for certain; this issue will not be going away anytime soon.