These Gun Laws Could Help Stop Mass Shootings

December 4th 2015

Another day. Another shooting. Yet, nothing has changed. After the latest tragedy that took place in San Bernardino Wednesday morning, people are calling for state leaders to do more than express solidarity and pray, but perform real action and legislation to help prevent gun violence in the U.S. Here are three common sense gun control reforms.

Assault weaponM62 / Wikimedia Commons - wikipedia.org

1. Assault Weapons Ban

The Assaults Weapons Ban (the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) prevents the sale of military-style guns and large-capacity magazines. Under the ban, more than 150 type of firearms would no longer be sold including the AR-15 assault weapon that was found on the shooters in San Bernardino, according to the Washington Post.

An older version of this bill, the Federal Assaults Weapon Ban, was passed by Congress in 1994. However, the ban expired in 2004. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who was responsible for the bill, reintroduced it several times after its expiration, but it never made it out of committee. In 2013, the ban was introduced in the Senate again, where it failed. The bill was supported by survivors of the mass shootings in Arizona, Colorado, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook.

.270 ammunitionsnowjackal / Wikimedia Commons - wikipedia.org

2. Large-Capacity Magazine Ban

Similar to the Federal Assaults Weapon Ban, a large-capacity magazine ban would prevent the importation, sale, manufacture, or possession of military-style guns and guns that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. According to the Law Center for Gun Violence Prevention, large-capacity magazines have an eerie connection to 50 percent of the mass shootings in the U.S.—including the 1999 Columbine High School Shooting, the 2009 shooting at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, and most recently, the shooting that occurred in San Bernardino.

Since the expiration of the Federal Assaults Ban, lawmakers from different states have independently passed large-capacity magazine bans.

In terms of state laws, only eight states have passed large-capacity magazine bans. Those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York as well as the District of Columbia.

Los Angeles, amid resistance from gun enthusiasts and the National Rifle Association (NRA), passed a high-capacity magazine ban in July.

man-looking-at-gun-in-gun-storeAP/Pat Sullivan - apimages.com

3. Expanded Background Checks

In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which requires any licensed gun importer, manufacturer and dealer to perform a background check for every gun transaction, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. However, this law does not apply to dealers who privately sell guns off market—like at gun shows. And with only 60 percent of Americans purchasing guns through licensed manufacturers and dealers, that means two out of every five guns are sold without a background check. According to Everytown For Gun Safety, background checks are the most effective way to keep hands out of the hands of dangerous people.

In states that have expanded background checks there have been reports of less gun violence. In those states with expanded background checks there were 46 percent fewer women killed by their partners with guns and 48 percent fewer gun-related suicides. Currently only 13 states have expanded background checks, Newsweek reports. Some of these states include Oregon, Connecticut, New York Washington, California and Delaware.

In speaking about the San Bernardino shooting, President Obama sat down with CBS News Wednesday and reemphasized the need to take legal action against gun violence and have "stronger background checks."

"For those of you concerned about terrorism of, you know, some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can't get on planes, but at the same tme those people who we don't allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm, and there is nothing we can do to stop them," Obama said. "That's a law that needs to be changed."gun background checks by stateFederal Bureau of Investigation - fbi.gov

How people are calling for these changes on social media.

Since the San Bernardino shooting, many on social media have asked their friends to share contact information for members of Congress and state legislatures so people can push their representatives to pass these reforms. The Huffington Post even posted some form letters here.

As mass shootings continue to be a problem in the U.S., we'll continue to see discussion of these proposals. But we're still a long way from seeing them passed into law.

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