In a joint statement issued shortly after President Donald Trump’s Monday morning address on this weekend’s mass killings, Democratic congressional leaders called for the Senate to return from its weeks-long summer break just to pass gun control.
“In February, the new Democratic House Majority promptly did its duty and passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which is supported by more than 90 percent of the American people and proven to save lives,” the joint statement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, N.Y., began. “However, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called himself the ‘grim reaper’ and refuses to act on this bipartisan legislation. It is incumbent upon the Senate to come back into session to pass this legislation immediately.”
The statement also chided president Trump for supposedly backing off of an earlier call for expanded background checks in the Monday morning speech. “When he can’t talk about guns when he talks about gun violence, it shows the President remains prisoner to the gun lobby and the NRA.”
Schumer and Pelosi concluded that “the public must weigh in and demand passage of this legislation for the safety of our children.”
The legislation being referred to here is also known as H.R. 8. It was introduced just a few days into the new Congress and passed the next month. It extends federal background checks, requiring them for private firearms transactions that don’t cross state lines.
The problem here is that federally mandated background checks on private intrastate transactions wouldn’t have done a thing to prevent either one of the shootings in Texas or Ohio.
Background checks can only catch when a prospective buyer is legally prohibited from purchasing a gun, such as a felon, illegal immigrant, or someone with a domestic violence conviction. As Bearing Arms editor Cam Edwards points out, neither suspect in this case was prohibited from buying guns legally.
What the bill would successfully do, however, is add an extra bureaucratic and cost barrier for law-abiding citizens who want to buy, sell, and trade their firearms legally. Critics point out that it would also make it more difficult for people to legally lend and borrow firearms in situations that call for it without running a background check.
But while Washington politicians scramble to call for more gun control in the wake of the weekend’s atrocities, it’s important to remember that the overall violent crime and murder rates have dropped over the last 20 years, despite a rise in mass shootings.
Also, despite the media and politicians’ focus on semi-automatic rifles, four times as many people died from knife attacks last year as from rifle fire.