Uvalde school shooting prompts Senate to agree to some limited gun controls – People’s World

Eric Gay / AP

WASHINGTON—It took the massacre of a madman in Uvalde, Texas, to force the recalcitrant U.S. Senate to listen to America’s parents and teachers, not the nation’s gun fanatics.

By a margin of 65 to 33, senators approved a gun control package, the first such victory since 1994. All 33 “no” votes came from Republicans and two more Republicans were absent. The 48 Democrats, both independent, and the 15 Republicans voted “yes”.

This means that even after the murder of 19 school children and two teachers in the Texas town a few weeks ago, most Republicans still heeded the dollars and threats of election retaliation from the National Rifle Association rather than appeals. from parents nationwide and requests from the National Education Association, the Teachers (AFT), other unions and gun control groups.

The package now goes to the Democratic-led House for its OK. He didn’t have all the anti-gun moves sought by Becky Pringle, president of the NEA, the nation’s largest union, and teachers’ president Randi Weingarten, whose union has 1.7 million members.

Notable shortcoming: A restored ban on the manufacture and sale of assault rifles, such as the AR-15 and imported AK-47. Shooters in Uvalde, a supermarket in Buffalo, NY, and four years ago at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida used these weapons of war. Such a ban existed for a decade after the last gun control law, enacted in 1994.

“How many more dead and injured children and educators will it take before those in power finally prioritize our safety over the demands of the gun lobby?” Pringle demanded in the Senate passage of the measure, S2538.

“Finally, the United States Senate has taken action, an important first step in eradicating America’s toxic gun suit and lack of access to mental and emotional supports,” Weingarten said. His union lost three teachers and 14 of their students in the Douglas massacre.

“We wish the Senate had gone further to end gun violence, as other countries have done, but the bill includes important measures that will save lives.”

The Senate bill includes more money for “community violence intervention, mental health initiatives” and helping “community schools” increase gun safety, it said. she declared. It also “takes weapons out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves or others.”

Gun control package puts more checks on gun sales to people under 21, including youth criminal record checks, earmarks aid to states to encourage enactment of ‘red flag’ laws , adds millions of dollars to make schools safer from shooters, bans the manufacture of “ghost guns” and adds several other restrictions.

The law of 1994, pushed by Congress by the senator at the time. Joe Biden, D-Del., banned semi-automatics — weapons of war — for a decade. But in 2004, the NRA-controlled Republican Congress, loyal to the gun lobby, let semi-automatic prohibition end.

This legislation has also been the object of hatred from the vicious corporate-backed gun lobby. He campaigned against all gun control and called on all schools to arm their teachers against active shooters – a move teachers and both unions overwhelmingly oppose.

The June 23 vote came just two weeks after Pringle and other witnesses before the House Oversight Committee called on lawmakers to do something to curb the spread of weapons of war — like the semi-automatic used by Uvalde’s murderer – in the streets of the country, in its schools. and, in Buffalo, NY

There, the armament combined with racism. The shooter, an older teenager like Uvalde’s but shielding himself with military gear, murdered nine shoppers and a security guard, all black.

The Uvalde and Buffalo massacres forced some Senate Republicans, including John Cornyn, R-Texas, to take action to control the spread of guns.

But even then, Cornyn, the top Republican negotiator on the gun control package, opened talks with Democratic leader Chris Murphy on the issue only after receiving the blessing of Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a senator captured in a past photo waving a high-powered rifle at a previous NRA convention.

“Will it save lives? Will it save lives? I believe the answer is “yes,” Cornyn told his colleagues. Even McConnell, bowing to overwhelming popular opinion, voted “yes”.

“For decades, the anti-gun violence movement has encountered obstacles and frustrations, yet they have been tireless in their quest for change,” Murphy said ahead of the vote. “Their advocacy made this moment possible.

“This legislation will strengthen background checks and keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. It is also making a historic investment in much-needed mental health and support services for students. This bill doesn’t include everything I want, but it will save countless lives and finally break a 30-year political deadlock.

But the campaign for gun control is still going on, warned a student-created and led leadership group, March For Our Lives.

Indeed, just hours before the Senate roll call, the six Republican-appointed justices who make up the right-wing majority of the U.S. Supreme Court rejected gun-limiting laws in New York and other states. on fire in public. He called them unconstitutional violations of the “right to keep and bear arms”. In response, the march called for protests at federal courthouses nationwide on June 24.


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James V. Hayes