Dems push gun reform in wake of Buffalo shooting

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


The debate on gun reform has taken center stage again on Capitol Hill, with Democratic lawmakers renewing their calls for restrictive gun laws following a racially-motivated massacre in Buffalo, New York, one of a trio of mass shootings over the weekend. 

Republicans have overwhelmingly denounced the Buffalo shooting that left 10 dead and three wounded at a grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood but are resisting pressure from across the aisle to enact gun reform legislation in its wake. Many, instead, are showing their support for measures focused on mental health, but Democrats and gun reform advocates have called for further action, including red flag laws that give courts the authority to confiscate firearms from individuals it deems to be dangerous.

“It just doesn’t seem to be helpful to me to go after law-abiding citizens and our Second Amendment rights, so I’m going to continue to hold that position,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday, according to a Fox News report.

“I think I heard a black person from Buffalo on television say that guns don’t kill, people kill. So what are you going to accomplish by gun control?” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked his Democratic colleagues Monday, The Hill reported. “Particularly, if it’s a violation of the Second Amendment?” he added.

Any gun reform bill is likely to fail in the 50-50 split Senate since Democrats would need support from all of its members, plus 10 Republicans, to pass new legislation. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has sided with Republicans on the issue, saying such measures would only hurt law-abiding Americans. 

“I think we’ve got to continue to organize around it. But clearly, if we can’t get the votes for Manchin-Toomey in the Senate right now, it’s going to be hard to move any bills,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said on Tuesday, referring to gun reform legislation first introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) years back, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 

Manchin has struggled to gain traction with the bill that would require background checks for all gun sales. To date, the measure has failed to attract enough votes to pass. The West Virginia Senator expressed deep frustration over the lack of support from his colleagues Tuesday.

“We can’t even get Manchin-Toomey, which didn’t violate anyone’s rights. It just said there should not be a commercial transaction unless there’s a background check,” Manchin said. “It’s the most, I think it’s the most agreed upon, it’s the most accepted in the country and we can’t even get that done.”

The White House has also increased pressure on Congress for action. President Biden advocated for major gun reform during his visit to meet with victims’ families in Buffalo Tuesday. 

“I know tragedy will come again. It cannot be forever overcome. It cannot be fully understood either. But there are certain things we can do. We can keep assault weapons off our streets,” Biden said.

Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are using gun reform to once again try to kill the filibuster, though Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are unlikely to change their prior votes to keep it in place.

“​​Legislative reform will require rolling back the filibuster, and to do that, we need two more Democrats,” Warren said on Tuesday.