February 24, 2018
In an effort to keep this course as topical as possible, this week’s readings address the issue of gun legislation. Once again, in the wake of a tragic mass shooting, calls are being made for Congress to enact restrictions on guns. Opponents claim that none of these restrictions is individually sufficient to prevent gun violence, while proponents contend that, taken together, certain restrictions can help to significantly reduce episodes like what occurred last week in Parkland, Florida, even if they can’t prevent them altogether.
The readings cover the last three years of this cycle of mass shootings and debates over gun restrictions. It is interesting to observe how media coverage of this topic is episodic: there will be a flurry of articles after each highly publicized mass shooting, and then relatively little until the next incident. After browsing through the readings, please address the following questions:
1) Why do you think Congress has been unable to pass any meaningful legislation to promote gun safety and to reduce gun violence?
First off a Republican Congress will fight vehemently against anything the Democrats are backing, there is so much bipartisan bickering going on I doubt if anything will be done through Congress.’ ‘Despite the enthusiasm of some Democrats like Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) the ‘path forward for almost any gun measure is cloudy at best in the Congress, as GOP leaders have given no hint that they will suddenly bring gun bills backed by Democrats to a vote in the House and Senate. (Feb 21, 2018)
Second U.S. Congress is up for reelection 2018. Ballotpedia reported that ‘a total of 468 seats in the U.S. Congress (33 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election on November 6, 2018. As every member of the House has to run every 2 years, which is referred to as ‘permanent campaigning’ in our text, incumbents especially have to be very careful not to ‘lose touch with their constituents or take an unpopular stand on an important policy’ such as gun control.
Third ‘over the past five years, more than 100 measures have been introduced in Congress to curb gun violence. None of them has passed.’ Because of NRA rhetoric, no bill seems to be able to pass.(June 2016)
2) If huge majorities of Americans favour actions such as universal background checks, what does this suggest to you about the nature of representative democracy in the U.S. today?
Being that the individuals who are elected look very different than their constituents the average American, as of today, Congress does not live up to the ideal of representative democracy. Bigley underrepresented are women and minority racial-ethnic groups.'(text p.299)
3) Do you think that this time will be different? What are the odds that Congress will finally enact curbs on access to guns in the wake of the Parkland shooting? Or might we see states take the lead on this issue?
States already seem to be taking the lead according to Ballotpedia, ‘the Oregon State Legislature passed House Bill 4145 on Thursday, which would expand the ban on firearm possession to include anyone with a domestic violence or stalking conviction.’ This is a step in the right direction because a man who was court marshalled for domestic violence, bought a gun, went to a church and shot and killed two-dozen worshippers. The sad thing is if the military had put his name in the national database this may not have happened. ‘But after it was revealed that the Air Force had failed to report Devin P. Kelley’s court-martial for domestic violence to the national database used in background checks for gun purchase,’ some members of Congress, including some Republicans, seem to at least agree with the objective of a bill put forward by Moore who was a domestic violence victim in her early twenties whos boyfriend would beat her and threaten her life with a gun. Moore’s bill would provide state and local authorities with money to set up reporting systems and seize the firearms of people involved in domestic violence cases. On the personal side, I have lost 3 good friends to domestic violence so I am all for this bill going state to state. Although ‘there is no guarantee that the new attention to the link between mass shootings and domestic violence will benefit Moore’s’ bill if one life is saved the bill would be well worth it.
Williams, Vanessa. Before Texas Shootings, Democratic Lawmakers Proposed Bills to Keep Guns Away from Domestic Abusers. WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post, Washington, 2017, US Newsstream, https://search-proquest-com.tacomacc.idm.oclc.org/docview/1964434103?accountid=36202.
US Sen, M. H. (2016, Jun 26). Guns, liberty and the law: Congress should represent american people, not NRA. Honolulu Star-Advertiser Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.tacomacc.idm.oclc.org/docview/1799519520?accountid=36202