San Bernardino Shooting Gun Control Debate: Reid Pushes For New Legislation

Authorities are still sifting through the mountain of evidence left in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting that claimed the lives of 14 people, but the political debate surrounding gun control is in full swing.

After Congressional Republicans brushed aside new gun control legislation Thursday, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid announced his intention to force a vote that would restrict gun ownership.

Calling the NRA the “quasi-militant wing of the Republican Party,” Reid said the government needed to stop people on the no-fly list from being able to legally purchase guns, reports the Hill.

“We can start by passing improved background checks legislation. I know that the thought of upsetting the National Rifle Association scares everybody, especially my Republican colleagues. You know what scares the American people? Gun violence.”

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan dismissed the idea of limiting access to guns, saying most mass shooting are committed by people with mental illness, according to the USA Today.

“People have due process rights in this country.”

Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino that claimed the lives of 14 people and injured 21 more is the 355th this year; 462 have people been killed and 1,314 injured, according to NPR.

While police were still searching for the couple that stormed the San Bernardino conference building with assault weapons, President Obama said Congress should at least bar anyone on the terrorist watch list from buying a gun.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein seconded the idea, telling the USA Today that suspected terrorists shouldn’t be able to buy dangerous weapons that could threaten the public’s safety.

“If somebody is too dangerous to board an airplane (because they are on a terrorist watch list), they are too dangerous to buy a gun. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

Ryan rejected that idea Thursday, saying that if the suspected terrorist had done anything wrong, they should be detained by law enforcement, not barred from purchasing firearms, which is protected by the constitution.

There is no evidence that Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik were on the no-fly list, and Republican Sen. Mike Rounds told USA Today that’s exactly why Congress shouldn’t move to restrict gun ownership.

“Part of the challenge up here, and I think the frustration that people feel is, is everybody kind of feels like we should do something, but doing something versus doing something which will actually make a difference are two different things.”

Gun control advocates were in an uproar Thursday, however, claiming the Republican Party had sold out to special interest groups in the gun lobby.

While politicians in D.C. debate increased gun control legislation, California might decide to act on its own. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a proposition in October to tighten the state’s gun control laws, already the toughest in the nation.

If it passes, the proposition would ban large capacity magazines, require ammunition sellers and buyers to undergo background checks, and establish a process to recover guns from criminals who own them. It would also mandate the Department of Justice to notify the federal government when someone is restricted from buying a gun, according to the Atlantic.

“Since Sandy Hook, I have sat back as a father and been mesmerized by the inability of the federal government to do anything substantively on gun safety.”

Sen. Reid, meanwhile, plans to attach his gun control legislation as an amendment to the Senate’s reconciliation bill. The amendment would prohibit anyone who has been charged with harassing someone at an abortion clinic from owning a gun.

[Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]