At the time of writing, at least 20 mass shootings have occurred since the Atlanta hate crime on March 16 which left eight people dead. With these tragedies, the Biden administration has begun to seek a full ban on assault weapons and the tightening of gun laws in the U.S. However, Republicans are still immovable on the subject. Much worse, Democrats do not seem to be taking full advantage of the majority they have in Congress. While this is frustrating to any sensible person concerned about safety, Biden still has the potential to make substantial progress in scaling back the accessibility of firearms in America. In order for this to be successful, he must be open to emulating the gun laws in other countries and putting pressure on the Democrats in Congress to do their part.
Republicans have offered little hope of working toward a safer country, which is mainly a consequence of the tight grip that the National Rifle Association has on these politicians’ wallets. And though the safety of children and people of color are huge priorities, the Republican party refuses to budge when it comes to their beloved assault rifles. However, if Republicans are unwilling to compromise on the issue, then Democrats shouldn’t either. Immovable Republicans should not be the reason why this important piece of legislation fails to pass.
On the contrary, Democrats are in a unique position where they hold a majority in Congress and therefore must waste no time in passing gun safety laws. Democrats give an immense amount of leeway to appease Republicans and try to appear bipartisan. If the roles were reversed, it would be highly unlikely that Republicans would act in the same way. There would be no room for debate, and they would not think twice about the desires or concerns of others. It’s time that Democrats grow a backbone and take a more rigid approach to gun control laws and the banning of assault rifles. If actions aren’t taken promptly, it may become too late to make changes. Playing nice and trying to convince the other side has proven to be ineffective in the past, and it will not get easier from here. If they continue trying to please Republicans, any legislation passed would likely be a watered-down version of what it should be.
Extremely strong gun control laws and a sweeping assault rifle ban must be implemented to fight mass shootings in America. On the surface, given Biden’s moderate stance coupled with a weak Congress, there appears to be little to no hope that he will put pressure on imposing strict gun control. He has heavily emphasized healing and unification, so it looks unlikely that he will try to pass anything that might rock the boat.
However, citizens should not completely lose hope. Biden has strong experience when it comes to gun control, and although it may have been difficult to squeeze anything past Republicans in the past, Biden may be able to get more effective legislation passed with the Congress that we have now. After all, he was the one who passed an assault weapons ban in 1994, and following the Sandy Hook shooting, he made a number of proposals for gun control during the Obama administration. This not only proves that he feels strongly about the issue, but it also gives hope that he has the capability to bring forth change.
In terms of rhetoric, Biden proves that he is a staunch proponent of gun control, but in addition to urging Congress, he must also be open to learning from other countries. Places such as Japan have almost eradicated gun violence by including extensive mental health and criminal record checks in their processes. Additionally, Ireland has exceptional gun
laws, where there are extremely heavy restrictions on the type of firearms people are allowed to own.
Most similar to the U.S. — but still more effective — Canada has a tier system where they classify their guns in three categories: prohibited, restricted and unrestricted. Although Canada’s laws seem a bit loose considering what we wish to achieve with the U.S., it’s still an easily achievable step in terms of what America can do with tightening its gun laws. Canada’s laws also include background checks that consist of mental illness screenings and looking into if an individual has been associated with violence, attempted violence and domestic violence.
The U.S. seemingly has some of the loosest gun control laws in the world — the effects of this have spoken for themselves. At the very bare minimum, if we are unable to ban assault rifles in the U.S. — although that should be the ultimate goal — we must do what these countries have done and implement a stricter process to obtain them. There is absolutely no reason why the average citizen should have military-grade assault rifles at their disposal. Even with less intensive firearms, people need a better reason that holds more weight than just self-defense. Anyone can use the reason for self-defense, and we must crack down on individuals who are trying to get their hands on a tool that can kill innocent civilians.
There shouldn’t be a next time in terms of another mass shooting in America. Congress should not wait in order to take gigantic strides towards tightening gun laws and banning assault weapons. While Biden has the heart and capability to make change, he must be backed by a stronger Congress in order to ensure that citizens in America are safe from gun-wielding fanatics. The time is now to follow in other country’s footsteps and to implement sweeping legislation that eliminates the danger of these destructive weapons.