Following the recent mass shootings in the United States, the US Congress is considering taking action on gun control.
Mark Barden has seen moments like this slip by, when he believed the US Congress would finally enact gun laws to prevent additional mass massacres.
But although none of these efforts have succeeded, Barden, who lost his seven-year-old son Daniel in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, remains optimistic that the time is near. A recent spate of mass shootings in the country, and especially the tragic killing of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, must be the catalyst for reforms, he told in an interview.
Senators involved in the discussions have indicated progress toward a possible deal, but they admit that there is still much more work to be done.
“We are making rapid progress toward a common-sense package that could garner support from both Republicans and Democrats,” Republican Senator Susan Collins said in a statement last Wednesday.
Senator Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator, said a deal must be made within the next five days in order to meet Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s deadline.
In the wake of the Uvalde massacre, polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support major gun reforms. A total of 88 percent strongly or somewhat support background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows, and 67 percent strongly or somewhat support a ban on assault-style weapons, according to a Politico/Morning Consult survey conducted on May 25.
Proponents of gun control argue that the rising number of mass shootings in the United States demonstrates the necessity for a major legislative reform. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 240 mass shootings this year, with more than 30 of them occurring since the Uvalde tragedy on May 24.
For a bill to get through the Senate, it must win the support of not just a majority of senators, but of at least 60 – a major hurdle that explains why recent efforts have failed. Since Democrats control just 50 Senate seats, any gun-control measure needs the backing of at least 10 Republicans, most of whom oppose major changes, citing the need to protect Second Amendment rights.
Despite this, Barden of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund sees hope for gun reforms, stating that Republican legislators must consider popular sentiment. Meanwhile, he is continuing his advocacy work, which includes teaching pupils how to recognize warning signs that could indicate a school shooting is imminent. He believes that more community-based training is needed to combat the plague of gun violence.
“We can prevent a lot of these tragedies from happening,” Barden said. “There are always warning signs, and that is what drives my work.”