In the wake of the Orlando attack, Republicans have expressed an unwillingness to compromise on the purchase of guns by people on terrorist watch lists but legislation is still far from a certainty. The Grand Old Party (GOP)’s traditional argument has always been based on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution on the right to possess rifles by private citizens for self-defence. The Democrats on their part feel the proposal, in the amendment, has outlived its usefulness, in the wake of the rise of gun-related violence in the country. Why then is the dilemma?
In the Congress, the vexed issue of Gun control has taken the centre stage again. The Democrats ended a 14-hour filibuster in the Senate overnight with the promise of some progress on proposed gun control legislation. Republican leaders agreed to take a vote on amendments to expand background checks and ban gun sales to those who are on the government’s terror watch list, closing what is known as the “terror gap”.
It is unknown how Republicans would vote on the proposals. But in the wake of the nightclub shootings in Orlando, a small handful of them in the Senate are now showing greater willingness to compromise on the terror proposal than they did last December, when rival measures from the two parties to close the terror gap in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting both failed.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the White House, is scheduled to speak with the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday to help formulate his own policy position on the so-called terror gap – a not-so-subtle acknowledgement of the extraordinary power that the gun lobby wields over legislators and candidates for high office alike.
The Bush and Obama administrations have both supported the same set of proposals, and the legislation most hotly contested by the NRA has been proposed jointly by Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democratic senator, and Peter King of New York, a Republican congressman. That said, Republicans tend to be in lockstep with the NRA more consistently than Democrats. Fifty-four senators voted against the Feinstein-King legislation last December, 53 of whom were Republicans.
What then is logic according to both sides of the divide? One side insists upon going after weapons that aren’t even that dangerous and just look scary. This side doesn’t understand the reality of guns. They don’t understand that a lot of common “assault” rifles are needed because they are better than traditional shotguns and rifles for hunting small and medium game. They also don’t seem to understand these “assault” rifles are needed by smaller people because they are lighter and have less kickback, therefore meaning that they effectively want to disarm many women without even realizing it.
On the other side of the aisle, you have these people that are screaming about the government trying to take away guns so that they can murder people. You have people harping about Hitler and Stalin and just going crazy. A lot of these people refuse to even entertain reasonable ideas, and a lot of them seem to be angry that they can’t run around their local mall carrying around a tommy gun or something.
Here in Nigeria, it is illegal to own a rifle without license, so the question of “gun control” or its unregulated use(s) does not arise. The country faces its own unique security challenges such as kidnapping and terrorism, but gun-related violence statistics are not clear on the effect of the use of illegal small arms in several cities across the country. With politicians providing small, but dangerous arms, to thugs during elections (which they don’t bother to recover when elections are over), the crises in several cities and inter-communal violence is on the rise. What will happen if all of us own guns in Nigeria?