The second amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees its people the right to “keep and bear arms.” The extent to which this phrase allows government control of firearms in America has been a highly contested issue, especially in recent years. The Democratic Party wishes to see a stricter regulation of firearms, especially assault weapons. The Democratic views on gun control are centered around the belief that “the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation.” The Democratic Party hopes to “focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and…work together to enact commonsense improvements–like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole–so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.” The 2012 Democratic Party Platform did explain that the Democratic Party does not wish to override the second amendment. Instead, they wish to see gun control reform that they believe lies within the scope of the second amendment, stating, “We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms.”
Democratic Legislation On Gun Control
The Democratic Party passed both the Brady Law and the Assault Weapons Ban. The Brady Law, formally known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, was signed by President Clinton in 1993, and instituted federal background checks for all firearm purchases within the United States. In 1994, the President Clinton signed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, authored by Dianne Feinstein. The act banned the manufacture of semi-automatic firearms that were defined as assault weapons under the law for civilian use. The ban expired in 2004, and Democrats have made several attempts to renew it, all of which were unsuccessful. These efforts were most recently renewed in 2013. The ban was proposed shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting of 2013, and was part of a broader gun-control bill proposed by President Obama. The Assault Weapons Ban failed on a vote of 60 to 40. In 2014, the House did come together and pass an amendment providing better funding to the background check system by $19.5 million. This amendment was passed in response to the public’s desire for action after a shooting in Isla Vista, California in My of 2014. The additional money will be used to ensure that states have the resources necessary to submit additional records of prohibited firearm purchasers to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, states that the amendment will “help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and make us all safer, but we need to do more. Congress needs to listen to the American public and expand federal background checks to include guns sold online and at gun shows so that any improvement to the background check system applies to all commercial gun sales.”
The Democratic Party hopes to see a good deal of gun control legislation in the future. Their goals include to incorporate mental-health criteria into the existing law regarding who can and cannot own guns. They hope to expand the federal prohibition on gun sales to include those convicted of misdemeanor stalking. They also hope to prohibit gun sales to those receiving involuntary mental health services on an outpatient basis, if a court deems them dangerous. Many states have already implemented these restrictions on a state-level basis. Democrats also hope to see states grant money to help local authorities bolster gun-violence prevention programs.
Barack Obama and Gun Control
President Barack Obama stands in firm support of stricter gun control laws. He adamantly believes that stricter laws will prevent further shooting tragedies. He has faced great opposition from Congress on this front, which he plans to override in the long run, stating, “citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook.” Obama has made it clear that his hope is not to diminish the second amendment, but to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. In his debate with Mitt Romney in 2012, Obama stated, “We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves. My belief is that we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement.”
Hillary Clinton On Gun Control
Hillary Clinton believes that America is in dire need of stricter gun laws, stating that access to guns in the U.S. had grown “way out of balance.” She hopes to see a balance between respecting the second amendment and keeping guns from criminals, stating, “respect the Second Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns, but I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands.” She says, “We’ve got to rein in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime, and I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.” Once a firm proponent for a National Gun Registry, Clinton positioned herself more conservatively than President Obama in the 2008 primaries. She believes that gun crime reductions in the 1990’s were because of the stricter gun control laws, and hopes to recreate this today.
- Democratic Party on Gun Control – On The Issues
- House Democrats introduce new gun-control bill focusing on mental health – Hot Air
- Barack Obama on Gun Control – On The Issues
- Hillary Clinton on Gun Control – On The Issues
- Donald Trump on Gun Control
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