By CHARLIE SNYDER
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece are not a reflection of the views of Paw Prints Weekly as a whole. They are the sole views of the author. Paw Prints Weekly celebrates a diverse audience and staff, and it supports the declaration of the duties and rights of a Journalist per the U.S. Constitution.
President Joseph R. Biden’s inauguration and transition to power over the last several weeks have signaled a turning point in American history.
With this new face at the head of our country’s democracy, it is imperative now more than ever that his administration cracks down on gun control to fight the gun violence epidemic that has plagued this nation for decades.
To start, it should be understood that this is, by no means, an effort to dispose of the Second Amendment. A common misconception made by various political parties and their supporters is that any governmental effort to regulate gun control would mean stripping American citizens of their right to bear arms. In reality, federal regulations of guns should be viewed as a matter of improving public safety, considering that the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791: a time when the closest thing to an assault rifle was a musket.
Unfortunately for the American conscience, it has taken eighteen deadly mass shootings to spark any serious conversation. In reality it has been the eighteen deadliest mass-shootings in U.S. history that have driven the long overdue serious conversation towards gun-related reform. However, it is not until one digs a little deeper into the details of these shootings that you discover that they all share one horrifying similarity: All eighteen of the most fatal mass shootings in U.S. history have been inflicted by semi-automatic weapons, a far stretch from the muskets used in an era of lax gun reform. This includes school shootings such as the widely publicised and heart wrenching Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 (28 killed), the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 (17 killed), and the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 (15 killed).
All three of these tragedies, as well as the many left unlisted, have sparked gun reform-related conversation. Yet according to Time Magazine, the only reason 2020 was one of the least fatal years in the last decade for gun violence, was because social gatherings and events were for the most part prohibited due to COVID-19 throughout the better part of the year. What is so alarming about this is that 2020 was simultaneously one of the WORST years for gun violence in general, during the last decade. Essentially, this means that 2020 saw more people shooting guns, with just less people to shoot at. It is not guaranteed that this same level of safety and security will continue once concerts, schools and clubs begin to reopen near the end of 2021. It is for this reason that it is crucial that the Biden administration begin acting towards stricter gun regulations, as well as improving upon the underwhelming efforts that the Trump administration made during his presidency.
That being said, what exactly did the Trump administration accomplish for gun control during their hectic four-years in power? In a phrase: not much. The solitary key decision that was made during Trump’s presidency came soon after the previously mentioned Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018. On Dec. 18 of that year, the Trump administration issued a ban on bump stocks: a device used to convert semi-automatic weapons to automatic weapons such as the ones used in the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 that left 58 people dead (not including the perpetrator) and 869 injured (413 from gunfire alone). Other than that, there was virtually nothing that the Trump administration accomplished. It is worth noting that it was nearly impossible for them to do so though, as Trump’s views on gun control reform continued to contradict themselves.
In 2015, Trump wrote in his book Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America, “bringing more government regulation into the conversation has accomplished very little. The main ‘benefit’ has been to make it difficult for a law-abiding American to buy a gun.” Yet in 2018, he seemed to go back on that view during a listening session with students and teachers after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Trump said that day, “We’re going to be very strong on background checks. We’re going to be doing very strong background checks.” Then in 2019, in an almost comedic turn of events, Trump threatened a presidential veto against sweeping gun legislation that would require universal background checks, set to be passed by the House of Representatives just two days later. It became dishearteningly clear that Trump would only commit to gun control reform when in a room full of gun violence victims. These broken promises were one of the strongest representations of his presidency, and with President Biden now in the White House, it is time for him to fulfill the promises that he has made to the American people for strong gun control reform.
Here are some of Biden’s more important promises to the American people. The full extensive list can be found on President Biden’s official website. President Biden plans to ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, end the online sale of firearms and ammunition, buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our comminutes, require background checks for all gun sales and close all existing loopholes currently in the federal background check system. This is only to name a few, and it is strongly suggested that you read over the list yourself to gain knowledge on his plans in order to hold his administration accountable for following through with this over the next four years. If these plans become a reality under President Biden, then we will be one step closer to the ‘greater’ America that Donald Trump and his supporters envisioned. Moreover, once America returns to a state of (somewhat) normality after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we will all be living in a safer nation than we did before.