Democrats aren't afraid to take on the gun lobby.
2018 saw the NRA and gun lobby suffer devastating defeats across the country. Now, an emboldened Congress is building on the momentum by introducing bills focused on gun safety, starting with universal background checks.
House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), will introduce a background check bill on the eighth anniversary of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) getting shot in the head at a campaign rally. Giffords survived the attack and now runs a gun safety advocacy group bearing her last name.
"I am thrilled that for the first time in decades, the United States House of Representatives will no longer sit silent as our nation reels from the growing gun violence epidemic," Giffords said in a statement about the House bill.
"Finally, with our new majority that ran on helping to prevent gun violence, we will introduce a bipartisan, universal background checks bill," Thompson, who leads the Democratic gun safety task force, said in a statement.
A similar bill was introduced in the previous Congress, but NRA lackeys like former Speaker Paul Ryan refused to allow a vote on the bill.
Even though Republicans still control the Senate — for now — Democrats are determined to push for gun safety legislation in both chambers.
"97 percent of Americans agree — if you can't pass a background check, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said in a statement introducing the Background Check Expansion Act. "Voters stood up this fall and made it clear they want Congress to do more to keep our kids safe from gun violence. We need to listen to them and pass our bill to save lives," he added.
Murphy is a long-time gun safety advocate, regularly lamenting the fact that Congress refused to take any concrete action after 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. President Obama called that day the worst day of his presidency, yet even the blood of so many young children didn't spur congressional Republicans to act on gun safety measures.
On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman High in Parkland, Florida. Several surviving students became vocal advocates for gun safety, encouraging young and old voters alike to oust NRA-backed politicians from office so that real change could happen.
"If you can't get elected without taking money from child murderers," student David Hogg said of politicians who take money from the NRA, "why are you running?"
The students organized the March for Our Lives, one of the largest gun safety rallies this country has ever seen, in hopes that the sought-after change would mean no other students would ever face the carnage they witnessed.
In the 2018 election, voters listened, rejecting NRA-backed candidates across the country and ushering in a new House majority led by Speaker Pelosi.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun safety advocacy group, praised the work of the new Congress on this issue, saying in a statement, "there is nothing more important than keeping our families safe — and background checks are an essential step towards ending America’s gun violence crisis."
"Our Democratic Majority will press relentlessly for bipartisan progress to end the epidemic of gun violence on our streets, in our schools and in our places of worship," Pelosi said in a statement.
"Enough is enough," she added.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.