This week’s blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager.
If you haven’t heard, the United States House of Representatives recently passed two gun violence prevention bills. Unfortunately, these bills will face opposition in the Senate, and we need to make our voices heard to stop the shenanigans.
The two bills are aimed at expanding and strengthening background checks for gun buyers, which nationally has been a stance supported by a vast majority of Americans…often touted as 90%, a number which was deemed true by Politifact as recent as 2017. As my former boss Colleen Daley at the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence would sometimes say,
“You can’t get 90% of Americans to agree on whether apple pie is better than cherry, but they agree on background checks. That says a lot.”
These two pieces of legislation “specifically would require background checks for all gun buyers, and extend the time the F.B.I. has to vet those flagged by the national instant check system, or NICS.”
Unfortunately, the issue of background checks for gun buyers becomes an intensely partisan issue by the time it gets to Washington. While the bills have passed the majority Democrat House, they are expected to meet strong opposition in the Senate from the Republican contingent.
There comes a time when we have to say that partisanship over American lives is simply unacceptable.
So here is your call to action. I would encourage you to do the following:
- Do your research on the bills. Please do not take my word for their contents. Knowledge is power.
- Start with this Giffords Law Center Fact Sheet on Universal Background Checks. After reading this one, read another. Find some articles. I could go on ad nauseam about the number of high profile shootings we’ve seen over the past few years that could’ve been prevented with stronger background checks, but please, do your own research.
- Call your senator. Tell them that you support these bills, and you are counting on their support as well. If you’re not sure how your elected representatives fall on these issues, ask, and then ask them (nicely) to make the decision that keeps their constituents best interests at heart.
- Email your senator. As someone who has been engaged in political action for years…let me assure you. One method of contact is never enough.
- Stay abreast of this issue until it reaches a conclusion. At that point, you’re either re-contacting your elected official to say thank you, or you’re calling to raise holy hell. Every day we ignore these issues is another day that we lose people, hundreds and thousands of people. Some righteous indignation is in order when elected officials are playing politics with human lives.
I know where Senators Durbin and Duckworth fall on these issues, but they’ll receive an email from me to offer support, for all the shenanigans they have to face from day to day in their line of work. I simply can’t imagine.
Background checks are not a partisan issue. It’s unfortunate that some would choose to make it so, but they make us all safer. I’m a veteran. While I am not currently a gun owner, I do have a FOID card. If I were to go and buy a gun tomorrow, I want to know that not only I, but everyone else who stepped foot in a firearms store on that day faced stringent checks to make sure they should lawfully own a firearm. That would make me feel good. It should make you feel good too. We don’t deserve anything less.