The Brady Campaign is not happy with the United States Congress. Activists for the prominent gun-control organization believe that lawmakers bear responsibility for the blood that was shed around the country while they were out on summer break.
To publicize their displeasure with the House and Senate, Brady advocates are handing out thousands of memos that read, “While you were out 4,500 people died from gun violence.”
Of course, the Brady campaign doesn’t breakdown that number to delineate how many of those deaths were suicide versus homicide, leading one to assume that violence in this country is out of control, when, in fact, the majority of those deaths were most likely self-inflicted (of the approximate 32,000 gun deaths per year, two-thirds are suicide).
While suicides are still tragic, there’s a difference between violence against oneself and violence against others, especially as it relates to policy solutions on how to bring down one category versus the other (e.g. having a boots-on-the-ground gang task force versus having a robust suicide prevention program). Brady seems to be pushing ill-conceived measures that will do little, if nothing, to bring down gun homicides or gun suicides. Nevertheless, they’re calling on Congress to take action.
“Congress is in for a rude awakening today if they thought seven weeks of vacation would wipe the slate clean,” said Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign, in a press release.
“While Congress enjoyed nearly two months of sun and fun, the American people paid the ultimate price for Congress’ inaction, with 4,500 shot and killed during August recess alone,” he continued. “Now that they’re finally back at work, gun violence must be a priority for Congress.”
Before they left for break back in June, the Senate had an opportunity to pass four bills addressing firearms. Two of those bills were put forth by Democrats and two were put forth by Republicans. All four were voted down. Here is the breakdown:
- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) put forth an amendment that would require universal background checks for all gun sales, including those between private buyers and sellers made over the Internet and at gun shows.
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) put forth an amendment that would prohibit the sale of firearms and explosives for those on the terrorist watchlist. She introduced a similar version of the bill back in December, following the mass killing in San Bernardino, CA. It also failed to clear the Senate.
- Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) put forth an amendment that would increase funding for NICS, the FBI’s system for running background checks on prospective gun purchasers, to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. The bill would also seek to clarify language regarding the mental health disqualifications for gun purchasers.
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) put forth an amendment that would give the government the power to deny the sale of a firearm to a suspected terrorist for a period of 72 hours after which time prosecutors would have to go to court to show probable cause on why the sale should be blocked, permanently. This bill was backed by the NRA. It also failed to clear the Senate in December.
It’s not clear at this point in time if the Senate plans on taking another swing at passing some form of gun control. However, the Brady campaign says that they’re not going to stop until some action on the matter is taken.
“This is not just some talking point,” said Gross. “These lives were abruptly and violently cut short by guns while politicians did nothing. A twelve-year old was accidentally killed by another child in a South Carolina home. Two Muslim community leaders in New York were gunned down in broad daylight. And in Chicago, an innocent mother of four was caught in the crossfire of two men who should never have been allowed to get their hands on guns in the first place.”
“Stories like these played out again and again and again, thousands of times over,” added Gross. “Continued inaction on this issue cannot be justified.
The question Gross ought to ask himself is whether he really believes any of the bills being proposed will keep a thug in Chicago or a drug dealer in New York from obtaining a firearm and using it for nefarious purposes? Moreover, how will a background check prevent a law-abiding octogenarian, terminally ill with cancer, from taking his own life?
At the end of the day, gun violence is a people problem, not a gun problem. Therefore, our laws and outreach efforts ought to target the people responsible for the violence or those at risk of inflicting it on themselves — not the hardware they use to perpetrate the acts.