By Jason Sibert and Patty Friend
There were three mass shootings in the month of April – Georgia, Texas, and Colorado. Not to mention 220+ people killed by gun violence last month. In 2020, gun violence killed 20,000 Americans, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive and 2021 is on schedule to kill even more. Americans are experiencing a 9/11 every other month. No other country in the world, including Iraq, has that level of mass shootings and gun violence, certainly no industrialized country has anything like it. President Joe Biden called on Congress last week to pass extensive firearms regulation.
President Biden called gun violence an American problem and not a partisan issue. Biden also called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The majority of Americans favor gun ownership regulations and even responsible gun owners and hunters support such laws. No hunter needs an AR-15 to take down a deer, bear, or moose. Two House-passed bills that are stalled in the Senate that would strengthen background checks and close the so-called Charleston loophole by extending the time federal investigators have to conduct background checks. Biden also called for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which would close the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent abusers from purchasing firearms. The idea that it’s easier to buy a gun than vote is shameful and horrifying. Biden’s speech follows a slew of mass shootings the U.S. has endured since he took office in January including a shooting spree that took place in Atlanta at several massage parlors. The events in Atlanta killed eight people, the majority of whom were Asian women.
Biden called gun violence “an epidemic.” Social Democrats USA supports the efforts of the current administration to manage the gun violence epidemic. Social democrats work to protect the individual from the negative side of free-market economics by favoring measures such as protection of the right to form labor unions; social insurance; social welfare programs; affordable housing. Social democrats should also protect individuals from the gun violence epidemic by supporting reasonable firearms legislation.
Some argue that all firearms are protected under the Second Amendment. However, it protects state-based militia units that have been fading away for years, as the units were replaced by the National Guard and the reserve components of the armed services. Some Second Amendment defenders say that citizens must fear our government and be prepared to form military units to fight against it. However, this is a weak argument. Would an armed citizenry stand much of a chance against our well-trained military? Aren’t we spending more than the rest of the world combined on our military? How could a band of citizens compete fiscally? Our government is armed with a nuclear arsenal that could wipe out the world several times over. Should citizens purchase nuclear weapons to defend themselves against their government? How safe should citizens feel if other citizens decide to build a nuclear arsenal?
SDUSA realizes law-abiding citizens use weapons for hunting, target shooting, and protection. However, many of those same people favor some forms of gun regulation. It’s also important to realize that organizations such as the National Rifle Association receive most of their money not from individual gun owners but from gun manufacturers. Naturally, gun manufacturers want as many guns on the streets as possible. No matter how many people die, they won’t stop promoting their weapons of destruction. Americans are dying from gun violence at alarming rates and our obsession over gun ownership kills far too many of us. We will not be free of this gun violence epidemic unless and until we pass the laws that are necessary to end it. Call your senators now and tell them to pass the legislation that’s stalled in the Senate.
Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project.
Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.