Yesterday, I took immediate action in the ongoing gun control debate by removing from a proposed firearms bill a provision banning assault weapons, all but ensuring that such a restriction will not be signed into law. In taking this bold step, I have effectively ensured that millions of deadly, military-grade firearms—much like the type used in recent mass shootings in Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook—will remain legal and easily accessible to all Americans.
But it isn’t enough. In spite of these bold measures, there is far more work to do if we are to enact regulations that achieve marginal, virtually nonexistent progress on gun control. And so today I say to my fellow senators: We must pass through a watered-down and ultimately meaningless package of so-called gun law reforms, and we must do so now.
The challenge, as it stands, is clear. Under our current laws, there exist virtually no rules preventing assault rifles and other deadly weapons that serve no legitimate purpose except to kill human beings from falling into the hands of anyone who wants them. And while it may not be politically convenient for them to do so, lawmakers must be willing to step up, band together, and go to work on a diluted, insubstantial bill that will do essentially nothing to address this problem. Moreover, once they’ve drafted such a bill, they must ensure it is torturously wrung through the Congressional legislative process until it bears virtually no resemblance to the law that was initially envisioned.
Now, ratifying such a useless piece of legislation will not be easy. With the NRA and other special interest groups standing in stark opposition to gun control reforms, it will be up to Congress to stick to its convictions and draft a comprehensive bill designed to put a stop to the sales of assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and other killing implements, and then completely neuter that draft into an insubstantial husk that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
After all, a majority of Americans—not to mention the President of the United States himself—have voiced their support of comprehensive gun reform measures, and so it is up to our elected officials to take the most hesitant measures possible, provided such measures won’t risk angering these lawmakers’ constituents and won’t possibly diminish their reelection prospects or, you know, alienate corporate America in any way whatsoever.
The people of this country deserve no less.
Remember that the stakes here could not be any higher. It was only three months ago that we learned of the senseless murders of dozens of Americans—including 20 children—in Newtown, Connecticut, a massacre made possible by the shooter’s free access to the very same weapons we today must make a half-hearted effort to ban before ultimately doing nothing of any lasting value. We owe it to these children, and all other children, to immediately pass through a futile law that does nothing to remove them from danger, so that we can look them in the eye and say, “We barely sort of fought for you.”
And once we do pass such a weak, impotent, piece-of-shit, garbage, why-did-we-even-bother law, further challenges await for us to buckle at the first sight of. Our gun regulations today contain numerous flaws and oversights that make deadly weapons available to some of society’s most dangerous and mentally unhinged individuals. Until comprehensive background checks, mandatory mental health screenings, and an end to the gun show loophole are half-heartedly proposed and then immediately discarded at the merest glimpse of a political obstacle, our laughably ineffective work will not be done.
But such future challenges are talk for another day. Today, it is up to us, as duly elected representatives of the American people, to put forth a historically insignificant bill that accomplishes nothing and makes the people of this country no safer, while also conclusively demonstrating to the NRA that even Congress is incapable of stopping them. That’s the kind of legislation we must pass through into law.
Assuming it even makes it out of the Senate, that is.