Senate Republicans block assault weapons ban, background checks bill

Senate Republicans block assault weapons ban, background checks bill

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked efforts by Senate Democrats to pass an assault weapons ban and universal background checks legislation after the United States over the weekend broke the record for the most mass shootings in a single year.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) objected to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) request for unanimous consent to pass the assault weapons ban, despite the pleas of Democratic senators who took to the Senate floor to cite the harrowing statistics of gun violence in America.

“The scourge of gun violence in America is a national crisis. The American people are sick and tired of enduring one mass shooting after another. They’re sick and tired of vigil and moments of silence for family, friends, classmates, coworkers,” Schumer argued on the Senate floor.

The assault weapons ban, originally sponsored by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would ban semiautomatic rifles with pistol grips, forward grips and folding or telescoping stocks, as well as rifles outfitted with grenade launchers, barrel shrouds or threaded barrels to allow for noise and flash suppressors to be attached.

But Barrasso argued that the Democratic-drafted bill would infringe on the Second Amendment and deprive law-abiding gun owners of an important liberty.

“Americans have a constitutional right to own a firearm. Every day, people across Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” he said. “Democrats are demanding that the American people give up their liberty.”

He said that Democrats are trying to ban many types of semiautomatic firearms “because of the way they look.”

He asserted that popular rifles such as AR-15s “work the same way as popular shotguns and other rifles used for hunting and personal protection.”

“The Second Amendment is freedom’s essential safeguard. Without it, there can be no liberty and there can be no security. So Mr. President, I object.”

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) later stood up on the floor to ask for unanimous consent to pass legislation to require universal background checks for firearms purchases.

“We don’t have more mental illness in this country, we don’t spend less money on law enforcement, we don’t have angrier people, we have more guns, and we are much more permissive in this country about allowing felons, dangerous people, to get their hands on guns,” he said.

A Gallup poll conducted in June 2022 found that 92 percent of Americans favor requiring background checks for all firearm sales.

“This just feels like a test of democracy. It really does. Like, how does democracy survive if 90 percent of Americans, 90 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats want something, and we can’t deliver it?” Murphy asked before he asked for unanimous consent to pass the background checks bill.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee took to the floor immediately to object.

“I want to note at the outset we’re not asked to vote in this chamber on polling questions. We vote on legislation,” he said.

He said the legislation to expand background checks “has some real problems with it.”

“This is not solely about transactions involving guns at gun stores. This is about the father who wishes to pass down a hunting rifle to his son or the friend who wants to lend a shotgun to his neighbor who is in need of protection at the time,” Lee said before objecting to Murphy’s request.

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