And Congress needs to pass them
In the wake of the Orlando club massacre, and Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy’s 15-hour filibuster, The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence is redoubling its efforts to get tighter gun control legislation passed.
The organization is asking citizens to put immediate pressure on lawmakers to vote yes on both the Brady Bill 2.0, which would expand background checks to all gun sales, as well as S. 551, which is a bill meant to limit who guns can be sold to at all. More specifically, S. 551 is intended to prevent individuals with ties to terrorism from legally purchasing arms in the United States.
The original Brady Bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993—after being fought over for six years—and it implemented both the mandatory five-day waiting period as well as background checks for handgun purchases. The background check mandate would eventually extend to shotguns, rifles and arms purchased at gun shows as well. A handful of individual states would go on to require such checks for all gun sales, including those made online, but no there is currently no federal-level law requiring such action.
And that’s where the Brady Bill 2.0 comes in. It was first introduced to the Senate just four weeks ago, on May 16, by Senator Chuck Schumer, and it would mandate universal background checks for all gun purchases. Schumer has also been a vocal supporter of the Everytown For Gun Safety initiative.
The piece of S. 551 legislation is a little bit older than the new Brady Bill. California Senator Diane Feinstein brought it to the Senate floor on February 24, 2015 as the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorist Act of 2015. The language of S. 551, meant to close the “terror gap” in current U.S. laws that permit terror suspects to purchase guns, is as follows:
Amends the federal criminal code to authorize the Attorney General to deny the transfer of a firearm or the issuance of a firearms or explosives license or permit (or revoke such license or permit) if the Attorney General: (1) determines that the transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be engaged in terrorism or has provided material support or resources for terrorism, and (2) has a reasonable belief that the transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism. Allows any individual whose firearms or explosives license application has been denied to bring legal action to challenge the denial.
Extends the prohibition against the sale or distribution of firearms or explosives to include individuals whom the Attorney General has determined to be engaged in terrorist activities. Imposes criminal penalties on individuals engaged in terrorist activities who smuggle or knowingly bring firearms into the United States.
Authorizes the Attorney General to withhold information in firearms and explosives license denial revocation lawsuits and from employers if the Attorney General determines that the disclosure of such information would likely compromise national security.
The S. 551 bill was put up for a vote last December following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, but it was ultimately voted down.
In Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s remarks following the shooting at Pulse nightclub, he curiously characterized it as “Orlando’s turn” to endure its own version of what has become America’s trademark tragedy. These two pieces of legislation seem like a chance for legislators to break the roulette wheel of horror that’s holding this country hostage, unless of course they think they’re better off just sitting and hoping their hometown’s “turn” doesn’t come around any time soon.