Several months ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee set out to find what needed to be done in order to make America safer in regards to gun violence. After the wake of the events in Colorado, Connecticut, and Texas, many Americans have urged lawmakers to set up and take action in order to prevent more of these crimes.
Two bills were passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee within the last week, S. 374 which is the “Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013” and S. 150 which is Senator Feinstein’s well-known “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.” Both are looking to limit the access, availability, and ownership of firearms.
S. 374 would have all firearm sales require a background check which mainly affects private sales and transfers. While all non-private sales (such as at a sporting goods store) require a background check under federal law, individuals are able to transfer privately. This aims to close the “gun show loop hole” but creates more frustration for law-abiding citizens. No longer would grandpa be able to pass down his shotgun to grandson or father to daughter. Even between family members, background checks would be done through a dealer, which would result in an additional fee for law-abiding citizens. One of the main arguments against S. 374 is that criminals are by definition lawbreakers, which means they will search for firearms by other means such as through the black market, stealing guns, etc.
Senator Feinstein’s S. 150 throws a wide net over firearms to be banned. This places a limit on number of rounds within a magazine, types of attachments for rifles and shotguns, as well as firearms that are considered a threat by lawmakers. The goal of this bill is to reduce deaths via gun violence, however, many have argued that this bill is an attempt to limit citizen’s second amendment rights (many tragedies do not involve high capacity magazines “assault weapons” as described by the bill).
Opposition to both bills have claimed that outlawing firearms is not the way to make the public safer. Law-abiding citizens have less ability to protect themselves against criminals.
At this time, both bills must be placed before Congress to be discussed and passed like any other legislation at the federal level.
The wheels are in motion for further firearm regulation, but because of the lengthy legislative process, it will be some time before anything is for certain.