With an investigation into the Orlando attacks ongoing and feelings still raw, Democrats are seizing the moment to renew their push for new gun-control laws.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut began a filibuster on Wednesday in an attempt to force a vote on a bill that would prohibit the sale of firearms to people appearing on Terrorist Screening Center no-fly lists. The bill is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a leading advocate of stronger gun-control laws.
In his speech on the Senate floor, Senator Murphy evoked the 2012 murder of 20 schoolchildren and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in his home state, calling inaction on gun-control measures “unconscionable.”
On Tuesday, President Obama also called for the passage of the “no fly, no buy” bill, and renewed his call for an assault-weapons ban, reported ABC News. In 2012, Obama’s campaign for such a ban dissolved in Congress, drawing anger from the president in his post-vote remarks.
Presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke up in favor of both proposals as well in a speech in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, said in a Twitter post on Wednesday that he would be meeting with the National Rifle Association about the “no fly, no buy” bill. The NRA has fervently opposed that proposal. Mr. Trump has been an unsteady supporter of the NRA’s agendas over the years, having called for a ban on assault weapons and a longer waiting period to purchase weapons in 2000, noted CBS.
A new CBS News survey of public opinion conducted in the days since the shootings at Pulse nightclub found that a majority of Americans say they support a nationwide ban on assault weapons.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents told pollsters they supported the idea, as opposed to 38 percent who said they were against it. Differences in opinion along partisan lines remained stark. A full 78 percent of Democrats said they favored the ban, compared to 45 percent of Republicans. A slim majority of independents (47 percent) were in favor as well.
As The Christian Science Monitor wrote on Tuesday, public support for the ban has flagged in recent years, with only 45 percent of Americans favoring it in December 2015. That’s compared to 80 percent in 1994, when a ban on assault weapons actually went into effect. It expired in 2004.
Public opinion on such measures tends to be volatile, varying according to what public sees as the main issues at stake. When fears about terrorism are in the mix, University of Arizona sociologist Jennifer Carlson told the Monitor, Americans are less likely to want a ban. If the issue is more about mental health, as in the Sandy Hook shooting, the public tends to come out in force for the idea.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.