Democratic Senator Pushes for Gun Control Law

"GH_9299" (public domain) by Raphael Warnock

In the wake of the deadly spa shooting in Atlanta, the Democratic governor is quick to connect the incident to pushing gun control reform law as a priority.

On Sunday, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) connected last week’s deadly shooting to push for gun control and making it in the list of priorities that Congress has to tackle. 

In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” the Democratic Senator called for “reasonable” gun control and a shift in the priorities for lawmakers. 

Warnock raised a question saying, “This shooter was able to kill all of these folks same day he purchased a firearm. Right now, what is our legislature doing?” 

Warnock added referring to Georgia’s state legislature, “That suggests a distortion in values when you can buy a gun and create this much carnage and violence on the same day, but if you want to exercise your right to vote as an American citizen, the same legislature that should be focused on this is busy erecting barriers.”

However, with the Senate’s 50-50 division, any gun control law needs at least 10 Republicans to succeed against the opposition. 

Meanwhile, as Democrats aim to push for gun control laws, they are left with a choice between lowering their aims or pushing for an extensive bill and risking coming away with nothing. The latter path however does not appear to be much appealing for the Democratic party. 

Delaware Senator Chris Coons said, “Do you try and move a comprehensive gun bill that will go nowhere? Or do you take a small bill, pass it, then a medium-sized bill and pass it?”

It has been three decades since the Congress last had a gun control bill. In 1994, they banned assault weapons for a decade and Democratic lawmakers want to break that streak and push for what they want. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusets said, “I want to see us take real, concrete steps on gun safety. We don’t have to do every single thing at once. We could just take a bite, enough to show that the NRA does not have the entire Congress by the throat.”

This approach could place the Senate at odds with Democrat-controlled House that just recently passed two bills supporting a strengthened background checks and requiring them for nearly all gun purchases. However, one compromise that the Democrats are trying to consider is the expanded background checks to sales online and gun shows, but not when individuals sell or give firearms to friends or family.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he while he wants to take up the House bills, there is currently no timetable to do so. In the meantime, the Senate is going its own direction with a committee study led by Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal said he does not expect an omnibus-style suite of gun control reforms.

Schumer said, “There are obviously some parts and pieces of this agenda that are easier to frame in passable form than others. I think the approach should be comprehensive, that’s the goal. But we may take it piece by piece.”

Republicans and Democrats find it hard to have a common ground on some of the gun policy proposals on the country. 

However, both parties continue to agree on preventing people with mental illnesses from buying guns, preventing gun purchases by people on the federal no-fly watch list, and conducting background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows. 

However, there are stark partisan differences on other issues, particularly on whether the laws should allow people to carry concealed guns in more places and to allow teachers and officials to carry guns in K-12 schools. 

According to Pew Research Center, about seven-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners favor allowing concealed carry in more places (72%) and allowing teachers and officials to carry guns in K-12 schools (69%); just 26% of Democrats and Democratic leaners favor each of these proposals.

The issue of carrying guns in more places and permitting teachers to carry guns is the widest partisan divide over gun policies. 

As Democrats try hard to push for gun control law, they are trying to find a “reasonable” gun control. The Democratic parties’ definition of “reasonable” gun control is still yet to be known.