It’s time to ban assault weapons

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska / Unsplash

A week after the Uvalde Texas massacre, when President Biden and his wife Jill visited the epicenter of the massacre to lay a wreath at the makeshift memorial for the little victims at Robb Elementary School, a desperate local resident launched a desperate cry, “do something president!”

“We will,” the president responded. At the time I wrote that the faces of those who visited the monument to the children of Uvalde, showed the unmistakable features of indignation and impotence.

Nearly 5 months later, against the backdrop of the new shootings in Colorado Springs and at a Virginia Walmart, President Biden and the Democrats have already signed into law but are trying to do something more significant: reinstate the nationwide ban on AR-15 style assault weapons.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons ban into law, but it was allowed to expire by the Republicans in 2004 during the George W. Bush presidency. Since then, the number of massacres has multiplied and the number of weapons in circulation in the country amounts to 400 million pistols and rifles.

Last June, a month after the Uvalde tragedy, Biden signed into law the most significant gun safety legislation in three decades, which includes incentives for states to pass “red flag laws” that allow soliciting courts to remove guns from people who are considered a threat to themselves or others.

Since then, Biden had called on Republicans to reinstate the ban on AR-15 assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, raise the gun-purchase age to 21, and make criminal background checks universal for gun buyers

Biden also called for eliminating the legal shield that gun manufacturers enjoy from being sued and closing the loopholes that prevent criminal record checks for weapons purchased at street fairs, on the Internet, or from individuals.

That same month, the House of Representatives approved a package of measures to restrict access to firearms as a result of the massacre in Uvalde. No Republican voted in its favor. The support of at least 10 Republicans is currently required in the Senate.

The White House acknowledges that getting the assault weapons ban restored before the start of the new legislature, where Republicans will have control of the House of Representatives, is an “uphill battle,” but the administration has insisted that they will not abandon their efforts to reach the goal.

This is a great opportunity for “rational” Republicans, as the president called them, to show us that they heard the outcry of the citizens at the polls on November 8th, and pass an assault weapons ban.

Its approval will not be a panacea to prevent all deaths, but it will go a long way to stop irrational violence. We owe it to each and every victim and their loved ones.