The shooting in San Bernardino that is now classified as terrorism has led many to believe that now is the time for action to stop future incidents. The terrorist shooting took the lives of 14 people and left 21 wounded all at an office party. The couple who committed the shooting was using high-powered ammunition and guns that could fire dozens of rounds in a second. The first person trying to take action against this type of violence and terrorism was Senator Diane Feinstein from California.
Senator Feinstein introduced an amendment to an existing piece of legislation that did two important things. The first was to allow the attorney general of the country to prevent people suspected of terrorism from being given guns, explosives and gun permits. This basically means many people on the no-fly list and the terror watch list would not be allowed to purchase a gun.
The second part of Feinstein’s amendment would protect the rights of lawful gun owners. The second portion stated that anyone who was denied a gun, explosive or license would be allowed to know the reason for the denial. That individual could then petition the government to reassess and possibly remove the restrictions. If that failed, then the amendment granted the power for the individual to sue the Justice Department for the right to buy a firearm or explosive.
The amendment was introduced into the Senate the day after the San Bernardino shooting. It managed to make it to a vote. The final tally was 45-52 against the legislation. The votes were strictly down party lines. All Republicans opposed the legislation while all Democrats supported it. The failure was upsetting for many people who did not understand why Republican senators would want to allow suspected terrorists to purchase guns and explosives. It was also frustrating for Democrats who have been attempting to introduce the barest of gun regulations only to be met with fervent opposition every time despite popular support for certain measures.
The reality seems to be that the gun lobby is powerful enough to stop any type of legislation that might restrict who can own a gun. These are organizations like the National Rifle Association, or NRA, and the Gun Owners of America to a lesser extent. The leaders of both organizations are known for exaggerated, conspiratorial and sometimes bizarre statements. Both organizations are also nothing more than lobbying arms for gun manufacturers who want to increase sales. The gun lobby has been able to fight off restrictions and even ban gun violence research through donations to many politicians.
There does not seem to be any hope that similar legislation will pass any time soon. A matching bill was introduced to the House by Republican Representative Peter King of New York. It was co-signed by 42 Democrats. It will probably not make it to a vote due to the Republican majority. Republicans have been defending the decision to allow suspected terrorists to buy guns and explosives by stating those individual have not yet committed any crimes or acts of terror.