Following a series of tragic mass shootings in the US, Republican lawmakers are making the case against stronger gun control laws, even claiming the proposed policies are racist.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday (March 23), GOP Senators made the argument that imposing universal background checks and other gun control restrictions would further impose already marginalized groups.
“Very often, inevitably in American history but even prior to American history, we’ve seen it’s rarely the empowered, very rarely the wealthy or those with political connections to the government, who have their rights interfered with,” Republican Sen. Mike Lee said at the hearing, per a report by BuzzFeed News.
The hearing was held the day after a gunman shot and killed 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado grocery store, and a week after another gunman killed eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors in Georgia.
Earlier in March, the House passed two pieces of legislation in favor of stronger gun control, but no legislation is currently being considered in the Senate. Voters on both sides of the aisle have shown widespread support for extended background checks on gun sales, according to poll data.
Following the shooting in Boulder, President Joe Biden called on Congress to push forward efforts to place a ban on assault weapons like the one passed in 1994 and expired in 2004.
Republicans in the Senate, according to BuzzFeed, are using different angles to make the same argument against imposing barriers to gun sales.
“Thoughts and prayers alone are not enough. We need action,” Sen. Ted Cruz said during the hearing on Tuesday (March 23). The action Cruz was referring to, however, was against stricter gun control laws. He said policies like universal background checks and bans on assault rifles are “ridiculous theatre where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop this violence.”
Sen. John Kennedy tried to liken the recent mass shootings to victims of drunk driving car accidents at the hearing, but faced backlash online as people refuted his point.
“I’m not trying to perfectly equate these two, but we have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people,” Kennedy said. “We ought to combat that too. But I think what a lot of people on my side are saying is that we ought not to get rid of all the sober drivers.”
Twitter users pointed out that the federal government has a large role in regulating who is permitted to drive vehicles in the country.
Democrats need at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to override a veto and pass gun control legislation. So far none of them have publicly supported the House measures.
Former President Barack Obama weighed in on the subject, calling on lawmakers to take action for the victims and their families. “It shouldn’t take a pandemic to curb shootings,” he said Tuesday (March 23).
Eyes are on what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer does in the wake of the recent violence, and if any legislation makes its way through Congress in a federal effort to stem gun violence and targeted attacks.
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