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Firearms in the United States: The Senate Fails to Act

June 22, 2016
Plain English Version
The National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

The National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

What to do about the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that killed 49 patrons at a club? It is the same weapon that killed 20 children in a school. The U.S. Senate went to work on the problem on Monday. The Senate decided to do nothing.

There is a group called the National Rifle Association (NRA). It is one hundred percent supportive of gun ownership. Most of the N.R.A. supporters are Republicans. People say the NRA. “owns” Congress. It does this with contributions of money and threats of reprisal in elections.

Congress can ban certain weapons, including automatic rifles. The NRA is the main reason Congress does not act.

There are limits to owning a gun.

The U.S. Supreme Court says there are restrictions on gun ownership. But, it says there cannot be a ban on ownership of all guns. There is a Constitutional “right to bear arms.” Recently, the Court reviewed some state laws banning certain weapons. It said the laws would be within the rights of states to enact.

It is too easy to ship guns across state lines. That is another reason why the Congress has to act.

The Senate looked at four bills on guns. They were about whether people who might be terrorists can buy weapons. These are people who are not allowed on airplanes in the U.S. The Senate could not agree on how to write such a bill.

To sum up: the courts agree that there can be restrictions on those who own guns. Large urban states, such as New York and California, impose limits. Most Americans favor safer gun laws.

People wonder why candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump did so well in the primaries. One reason is that Congress does not take steps to protect citizens. Sanders and Trump reflect that frustration.

Source: The New York Times June 21, 2016

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