Congress Votes To Ban Guns That Can Kill A Classroom Full Of Kids In Under A Minute

Congress Votes To Ban Guns That Can Kill A Classroom Full Of Kids In Under A Minute
Video screenshot, KHOU (B-roll well after end of shooting)

On Friday, the House passed a ban on many of the semi-automatic weapons favored by America's worst school shooters, despite nearly all Republicans voting against it. That would be the nice thing about having a majority in Congress.

The ban is similar to the assault weapons ban that used to exist before Republicans sold out our nation's children to the gun lobby, the one we had before mass shootings tripled. The one we had in the years where we didn't have to hear about these horrific tragedies every other week.

President Biden is now asking the Senate to “move quickly to get this bill to my desk.” Because hey! Wouldn't it be great if we could save some lives? If kids didn't have to go to school every day knowing that someone can just walk in with a gun that can fire 45 rounds per minute? That seems pretty great to me. It's certainly a better and more sensible alternative to arming teachers and outfitting every classroom across the country with bulletproof safety pods.

House Democrats made compelling cases for the legislation, focusing on balancing rights and protecting our children.

Via The Washington Post:

Democrats argued that the ban on the weapons makes sense, portraying Republicans as extreme and out of step with Americans.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the weapons ban is not about taking away Americans’ Second Amendment rights but ensuring that children also have the right “to not get shot in school.”

Pelosi displayed a poster of a gun company’s advertisement for children’s weapons, smaller versions that resemble the popular AR-15 rifles and are marketed with cartoon-like characters. “Disgusting,” she said.

In one exchange, two Ohio lawmakers squared off. “Your freedom stops where mine begins, and that of my constituents begins,” Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur told Republican Rep. Jim Jordan. “Schools, shopping malls, grocery stores, Independence Day parades shouldn’t be scenes of mass carnage and bloodshed.”

You think?

While we can't say for sure, the high body count these weapons allow is likely part of the appeal they have to the kinds of creeps who want to make a name for themselves by committing a mass shooting. The more horrific the shooting, the more attention they're going to get. Being able to kill a classroom full of children in under a minute certainly has more of a drama factor than just walking in there with a regular handgun. It's also a lot harder to take down someone carrying an AR-15 than someone carrying a handgun.

It's expected to stall in the Senate with the filibuster in play — and you know what? That's okay. It's not okay that we've still got to deal with the filibuster, but it is also okay if it doesn't pass. It's okay if it's not "feasible."

We need to get ourselves okay with the idea of continually trying to pass bills on our most important issues, whether or not they are "feasible" — both in the House when we can and in state legislatures. Why? Because It's PR. Because the House passed this bill, people like me get to write about it, readers get to hear from politicians why the ban is so important, and Republicans have to explain why they think we should keep having to live this way. We get to keep these issues at the front of people's minds, so that they are discussing and advocating for these policies regardless of what is going on with the legislature, so that they feel passionately about it and also feel that ultimately, we will win.

I tend not to be a big fan of "We need to do what Republicans do if we want to win" arguments, for two reasons. One, because most of the time these are not things Republicans actually did or do to win so much as a thing the pundit making the argument would like to see Democrats do to win. Two, we're not Republicans, and doing "what they do" in many cases robs us of a lot of our strengths. Their tactics tap into people's worst instincts, and one's worst instincts are more likely to vote Republican. So that's never going to work for us.

But where we can learn a lesson is in tenacity and in not nursing our wounds for longer than is necessary. Republicans tried for decades to pass the absolute worst anti-abortion laws. They passed ridiculous, overly severe laws that would never, ever have gotten through the courts in those days. And over and over again, they lost. Until they didn't.

That's how they kept it in the forefront of everyone's minds, how they kept getting people out to the polls, how they kept enthusiasm up. Losing didn't hurt them, because their constituents saw that they were trying and the more they tried the more support they got for that cause. People get it in their heads that "Oh, well, if we pass this bill and it doesn't work, we'll look like huge losers and no one will vote for us." But things do not work like that. People don't work like that. If people see you trying, you get the credit.

Support for an assault weapons ban is at an "all-time low" following Uvalde (I don't get it either) and it's still 50 percent. That is a significantly larger percentage than have ever supported making all abortions illegal. If we want this done, if we want anything done, we have to keep it up, and keep getting up each time we fall. Especially in a case like this, when what's on the line are children's lives.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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