Last week’s shooting near Indianapolis marked the sixth straight week containing a mass shooting. We see the same cycle after every one. Thoughts and prayers are followed by Democrats generally calling for reform and Republicans generally accusing the former of politicizing personal injury. Then a few weeks later, we all stop talking about it and move on to something else we try and care about for a bit.
It seems as though everyone you talk to these days has their story of a shooting scare, or someone they know has such a story, ranging from the scare on campus a few years back to any number of mass shootings that have occurred — totaling 417 just in the year of 2019. What is even more disturbing is the racial breakdown of shooting victims, which is all too often left out of the discourse on mass shootings.
We have said it for years, but I will say it again: Enough is enough. With talk of removing the filibuster still kicking around, Democrats must force Republicans to vote against common-sense gun reform, which around 80% of Americans support in one form or another.
Following the Parkland, Fla., shooting, I saw this cycle take place in my own backyard. Politicians from both sides swore such a shooting would never happen again, but as we all know, that was not the case. President Joe Biden has fought for years to implement gun control measures, but one of the only substantive things he has done was include $5 billion in his infrastructure plan for community violence prevention programs. It is a start, but it is in no way enough.
What we need is a comprehensive — and popular — gun control bill that would leave the more ardent Republicans with no choice but to cast a nay vote and face their constituents who would be in favor of implementing such legislation. Moreover, if Democrats remove the filibuster, they would be less able to use gun control just as a voting issue and doing next to nothing once they are in power.
H.R. 1446 is on the docket for the Senate, but it is expected to be filibustered by Republicans. This bill focuses on background checks for gun purchases, which is a step in the right direction, but it is missing more aggressive forms of gun control. I propose a complete assault weapons ban and regulations on ghost guns.
The Assault Weapons Ban, which lasted from 1994 to 2004, was found to have decreased incidents of mass shootings by 25% and fatalities by 40%. This was a great piece of legislation while it lasted because it prevented people from purchasing military style assault rifles, which are the commonly used weapon for mass shootings in this country. Incidents including, but not limited to, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., the Las Vegas concert shooting and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting involved assault weapons. These weapons must be banned for the sake of saving lives, and almost 70% of Americans agree with this sentiment.
A new and huge loophole to circumvent a lot of these regulations is ghost guns. Ghost guns are weapons that are assembled personally through kits, meaning not by a corporate gun manufacturer. This process has always been legal; law enforcement never deemed them to be too dangerous, since they thought individuals usually lacked the expertise to assemble such a device. However, the actual ease and efficacy of these ghost guns have troubled many.
Critically, these guns lack serial numbers or any other tracking mechanisms that law enforcement could use to regulate them. The solution to this problem is not an easy one, but we can begin by placing the same restrictions on buying ghost guns as are placed on regular guns. California did this and has had success in mandating serial numbers and background checks when applicable. New Jersey also criminalized the 3D printing of guns, another form of ghost guns. These regulations are incredibly important for preserving safety and reducing the amount of unregulated guns and subsequent violence in the United States.
These two states’ measures will not end the gun crisis in the U.S., but they will certainly save lives. The cycle of American gun violence always spikes right after a shooting and quickly subsides, but the problems do not go away for the communities affected.
Mass shootings and gun violence have long wakes, filled with withspread harm and fear. Democrats should take initiative and finally accomplish a goal they continuously run on.
Shubhum Giroti is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.