Young gun control advocates welcome Senate deal, say more must be done
Young gun control advocates say they welcome a bipartisan bill being drafted in the Senate, but they’re not giving up fighting for stricter measures.
What You Need To Know
- Young gun control advocates say they welcome a bipartisan bill being drafted in the Senate, but they’re not giving up fighting for stricter measures
- A group of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans last weekend reached a framework agreement on new gun legislation in response to mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas
- David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, told Spectrum News he doesn’t think the bill goes far enough, “but it’s a good step forward”
- Laura McDow, an 18-year-old gun control advocate, said the fact that some Republicans are now receptive to gun reform “shows that people are starting to understand what this movement is about”
A group of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans last weekend reached a framework agreement on new gun legislation in response to mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed a combined 31 people, including 19 schoolchildren.
The bill, which is still being hammered out, would:
- Require enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21.
- Offer incentives for states to implement “red flag laws” that would allow law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms from someone considered to be a danger to themselves or others.
- Close the “boyfriend loophole,” addressing a gap in federal law that bars domestic abusers who are married to, have lived with or have a child with the victim from having guns, but does not prohibit dating partners from having firearms.
- Increase funding for mental health support and school safety.
David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, who co-founded the gun control advocacy group March for Our Lives, told Spectrum News he doesn’t think the bill goes far enough, “but it’s a good step forward,” adding, “It’s more progress than has been made in my entire lifetime.
“Unfortunately, no law’s perfect, and these shootings are going to continue,” he added. “But I hope that this law can even stop one more Parkland from happening. And if it does, that’s a success, right?”
Hogg, 22, said he’s more pragmatic than he was four years ago and is “focused on getting done what we can right now with the cards that we’ve been dealth with the Senate.”
“I think the reality is Republicans have spent the past 30 years doing nothing on this issue,” he said. “And I don’t think they’re going to be afraid to not do anything anymore on this issue, either. We need to take what we can get right now and get as much as we can in that bill, obviously.”
Hogg said he thinks it’s important that Democrats don’t reject the deal because it doesn’t achieve more of their goals.
“What I fear is that we say this bill doesn’t do enough, we drive the Republicans away, who now feel more afraid — right? — because they feel like they stepped out of the party line and now they’re going to face it from all sides, from Democrats and Republicans coming at them. And then we won’t get anything.”
If the bill passes, Hogg’s wish list will still include raising the minimum age to buy all guns to 21.
“If you can’t buy beer, I don’t think you should be able to buy an AR-15,” he said.
Hogg also said he’d like to see assault weapons reclassified under the National Firearms Act so they’re subjected to the same restrictions as machine guns, or all-out bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
People who are serious about gun reforms need to speak with their votes and keep applying pressure to lawmakers, Hogg said, but advocates also should focus their efforts on state legislatures, which he said offer the best path to “common sense gun safety measures.”
He said he’s learned from experience that young people can’t fight for gun reform on their own because they need advice and mentorship from older generations.
“That’s what I see the movement really going towards is a multigenerational coalition, where everybody’s at the table and no group is left out,” he said.
The Parkland massacre, which left 17 people dead, also propelled Laura McDow, then in eighth grade, to get involved in gun control activism.
“I think that was that was a pivotal moment for me hearing about this,” McDow, now 18, told Spectrum News.
The teen attended a March for Our Lives rally with her father after the Parkland shooting and then became active in the organization, working in communications and fundraising and with people in her home state of North Carolina who’ve experienced gun violence.
She has a similar view about the Senate framework as Hogg.
“It’s a little less than what we were hoping for, but again, I think that it is progress towards the larger goal,” she said.
McDow said the fact that some Republicans are now receptive to gun reform “shows that people are starting to understand what this movement is about, and that it’s not taking people’s guns. It’s really just keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”
The framework has the support of President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Sen. Texas Cornyn of Texas, the lead Republican negotiator on the legislation, expressed concerns Wednesday about a couple of items in the potential bill.
Cornyn told reporters he didn’t want to see states that don’t have red flag laws but have other types of crisis intervention programs be excluded from federal funding. And on closing the boyfriend loophole, he said lawmakers need to “come up with a good definition” about specifically what type of behavior would prevent individuals from being able to have guns.
Democratic negotiators said they’re optimistic those issues will be resolved. Lawmakers met again Thursday with the goal of trying to hammer out those issues, but left the Capitol for the weekend without a final agreement.
“It’s fish or cut bait,” Cornyn told reporters, per Punchbowl News, adding: “This is the hardest part because at some point, you just got to make a decision. And when people don’t want to make a decision, you can’t accomplish the result. And that’s kind of where we are right now.”
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator on the bill, struck a more optimistic tone, saying that they reached an accord on “most all of the bill.”
“We all recognize that if we want to get this done next week, we have got to finish this off soon,” Murphy said. “We have agreement on most all of the bill and we’re currently drafting what we have agreement on. There’s a couple of issues that we don’t have agreement on and we need to work through the next 24 hours, but we are operating as if we’re bringing this bill to the floor.”