WASHINGTON (AP) — Nine months ago, President Joe Biden signed a sweeping bipartisan gun law, the most serious legislative response to gun violence in decades.
“Lives will be saved,” he said at the White House.
The law has already prevented some potentially dangerous people from owning guns. However, since signing last summer, mass emissions in the United States have only increased. Five dead at a nightclub in Colorado. He killed eleven at a dance hall in California. And this past week, three 9-year-olds and three adults were shot and killed at a school in Nashville, Tennessee.
A day after this school shooting, Biden’s tone was noticeably less optimistic than the signing ceremony.
“What are we doing by the immortal gods?” asked in * speech On Tuesday, they were calling for a ban on so-called assault weapons like the ones used to kill at the Nashville Alliance School. “There is no price to pay for moral leisure.”
Biden and others passed the bipartisan gun bill last year in the weeks after the shooting of 19 children and two adults at a school in Uvalde, Texas – as a new way forward.
Several months into the law, the law has had some success: FBI-instructed background checks on gun sales for 119 buyers under the age of 21, prosecutions for illegal gun dealers have been increased and new penalties for gun trafficking have been charged in at least 30 cases. . around the country. Thousands of new dollars have flowed into mental health services for children and schools.
But the persistence of mass shootings in the United States highlights the limits of Congressional action. While the law was a political compromise, it included many Democratic priorities for gun control, including universal gun control, or a ban on “assault weapons,” as Biden has often called for.
Now, in the wake of the Nashville shootings, Congress seems to have returned to the note of constraints. One of the top Republican advocates on gun laws, Texas Sen. John Comyn said a new compromise was unlikely. The new GOP majority in the House supports fewer gun restrictions, not more.
Asked Thursday about the march ahead, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said gun violence legislation alone cannot solve the problem. He said Americans need to think deeply about mental illness and other factors that drive people to act out.
On the other hand, House of Representatives Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York said that Congress “deals with the urgent need for violence now.”
“Our classrooms are cutting fields,” he said. “Is it welcome in America?”
Popular Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the lead author on the 2022 bill, says it marks a paradigm shift in how Congress decides on gun legislation. But he said, “I don’t think everything will come together.”
“This is sickening, but opportunities for legislative change usually come after really terrible mass shootings,” said Murphy, who was the Senate’s top gun control advocate since the 2012 mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. “I hate it, I wish it wasn’t how he acts.”
Tensions ran high on both sides of the Capitol this past week.
On Wednesday, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., stood outside the House chamber and said that Republicans are “bad guys” for not doing more on gun control, finally with Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who is a lawyer. allowing teachers to carry guns.
“More guns lead to more deaths!” Archer shouted at Massie. “Children are dying!”
In the Senate, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas tried to pass a vote on Thursday that would increase the presence of police in schools. He criticized almost all Democrats, who had blocked the same law last year, because he called the Nashville-directed 2022 law “vanity.” Murphy angrily objected to Cruz’s bill, arguing that Cruz was not serious about the compromise and that his move on camera was foolish.
Despite the frustrations, lawyers who negotiated the compromise last year say they see signs of hope.
Murphy said the implementation of the new law, and some of its early successes, will eventually convince Republicans to put more legislation on the table.
“What happened last year was seismic among Republicans,” Murphy said.
Depending on the success of the bill, “People don’t get excited about bills that didn’t happen,” Murphy said, and it can be a challenge when they talk about it and contemplate what else could be done. But the dynamic can change quickly, he said.
While Republicans have tried to avoid gun measures in the past, even though they supported them, Comyn and Sen. Thomas Tillis, RN.C., promoted the new law and discussed it frequently. Last year, they joined Murphy, Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and FBI Director Christopher Wray during a visit to an FBI facility in West Virginia for a briefing on which they were working on background checks.
“I’m proud to see this community of lawmakers already making a difference,” Tillis said later in a statement.
According to recent information obtained by The Press Associate, a group of people who have been banned from buying guns in Nebraska include an 18-year-old who had made terroristic threats and was prone to violent outbursts. -year-old drug dealer in Arizona and 18-year-old in Arizona who had previously been charged with possession of illegal weapons and possession of fentanyl was found. They were all trying to buy long guns.
Tillis said he knows of a single case in his home state where a man under 21 who was charged with assault and battery and assault was fired at a police officer and refused to buy a gun.
“It’s one of those bills that comes of age,” Tillis said, noting that the number of gun sales denials is a tiny fraction of the total sales.
Comyn said that so far, the proposal “seems to be working”. But he said he doesn’t expect Congress to go any further anytime soon. He said he would vigorously oppose the “assault weapons” ban that Biden is proposing.
When Biden and other lawmakers talk about “assault weapons,” they’re using the term imprecisely to describe a group of assault rifles or semi-automatic rifles, such as the AR-15, that can fire 30 rounds without reloading. .
Most Republicans have consistently opposed such a ban, arguing that it would be too complicated, especially as the sales and variety of guns proliferate. There are more types of these magnificent devices today than in 1994, when the ban was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
Legal citizens own those guns, Cornyn said, and “no legal citizen is a danger to the state.”
Despite its current standing, John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, says last year’s bill proved to be breaking barriers.
“I’ll never finish,” he said.
Associate writers Lisa Mascaro, Kevin Freking and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.