Gunpocalypse: Senate Weighs Gun Control As States Seek To Limit Firearm Ownership

Days after the largest mass shooting in America claimed the lives of 49 innocent people, lawmakers in the senate are poised to vote on gun control measures, while many states are considering bills of their own.

Senate Democrats managed to secure a vote, as early as Monday, on a bill to prohibit gun ownership for people on government watch lists that include suspected terrorists like Omar Mateen, the Orlando nightclub gunman.

Meanwhile, several states are considering their own gun control bills including California, which advanced 11 firearm control measures this week, Assemblyman Marc Levine told SFGate.

“The unthinkable human tragedy in Orlando is a call to action to make our communities safe from gun violence. The California Legislature has a package of bills dealing with gun violence, and the nation is looking for leadership.”

A new Reuters poll conducted shortly after the Orlando mass shooting shows more Americans, about 71 percent, favor at least moderate gun control than ever before. Eight of 10 Democrats support bills limiting access to firearms along with nearly six out of 10 Republicans.

Gun control bills have failed to become law in the past thanks largely to Republicans, who say any such bill would trample on Americans’ right to bear arms as guaranteed under the constitution, but that may be changing.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump weighed in on the issue this week saying he could work with gun rights activists go help bring about change.

Public outrage and the concern of lawmakers worried about the safety of everyday citizens has prompted the senate to vote on four gun control measures Monday. They would expand background checks on gun buyers and prohibit people on terrorism watch lists from owning firearms.

If they fail, which is possible because of partisan politics, there is a proposed compromise which would bar people on the no-fly list from purchasing guns, but allow those on a broader FBI terrorist list to own firearms.

Meanwhile, California lawmakers advanced 11 gun control measures this week including one that would require people to surrender or destroy magazines carrying more than 10 bullets, Senate President Kevin de Leon told KPCC.

“There’s no time to be lackadaisical on this issue. Forty-nine people were massacred, were mowed down quite easily with high-powered weapons, so it gives us more of a sense of urgency.”

The other gun control bills would ban rifle buttons that allow shooters to quickly switch out magazines, limit rifle purchases to once a month and crack down on false reporting of stolen firearms. Mental health professionals would also be able to file for restraining orders to stop certain individuals from possessing guns.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is promoting a ballot measure that make many of the proposed bills into law, if they can’t pass the state legislature.

Lawmakers hope these restrictions will some affect on the huge number of mass shootings afflicting America. The latest shootings, in Orlando, were conducted by Omar Mateen, an ISIS sympathizer who legally purchased his assault style weapons, despite appearing on FBI terror lists.

Not everyone agrees with the national push to limit gun ownership including Chuck Michel, president of California’s Rifle and Pistol Association, according to the SFGate.

“None of this is going to get the guns out of the wrong hands. And any politician that tries to exploit a tragedy like Orlando to advance a gun control agenda should be ashamed.”

Radio icon Howard Stern also weighed in this week saying everyday Americans were like sheep who need guns to protect themselves from criminals and terrorists he described as wolves.

There have been no major gun control bills passed since 1994 when Congress temporarily banned semi-automatic assault weapons for 10 years.

What do you think? Should people on terror watch lists be able to buy guns?

[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]