Written by: Lily Arangio
On June 11th, 500 people chanted “What do we want? Gun control!” through the streets of downtown Redwood City. While the march and subsequent rally inspired hope to remedy the political apathy that is all too common after tragedies like Uvalde, they also acted as catalysts for meaningful policy change. In combination with the over 450 March For Our Lives gatherings that happened on that Saturday in early June, we successfully moved the government to take action in the name of gun violence prevention. Most notably, the U.S. house recently passed the Assault Weapons Ban -- one of the most impactful pieces of gun control legislation.
While the legislation still needs to pass through the Senate, there is no denying its importance and what it reveals about the power of protest. The bill criminalizes the selling, manufacturing, transferring, and possessing of semiautomatic weapons and devices with the capacity for more than 15 rounds of ammunition, also known as large capacity ammunition feeding devices. Should the senate pass the bill, they would outlaw the AR-15-style gun that has continually enabled mass shootings: 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (27 deaths), 2015’s San Bernardino shooting (14 deaths), 2016’s Pulse Nightclub shooting (49 deaths), 2017’s Sutherland Springs church shooting (26 deaths), 2017’s Las Vegas Massacre (58 deaths), 2018’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (17 deaths), and most recently, the 2022 Uvalde shooting (21 deaths). These assault weapons have clearly claimed far too many lives in horrific events, leaving people to mourn their loved ones’ deaths -- deaths that legislation could have prevented. Banning these unnecessary weapons would outlaw the specific class of firearms that have terrorized the United States and made schools, places of worship, concerts, movie theaters, nail salons, night clubs, and any other public gathering, unsafe.
Similar legislation has worked in the past. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed an assault-weapons ban. Like the current bill that just passed the house, the Clinton-era legislation banned AR-15s and similar semiautomatic weapons. During the ban, the number of gun massacres fell by 37% and the number of deaths from gun massacres fell by 43%. When the ban expired in 2004, there was a 183% increase in gun massacres and a 239% increase in deaths from gun massacres. Such drastic change reveals the necessity and effectiveness of the assault-weapons ban.
The movement of this crucial legislation is in part due to the widespread public outcry, championed by the tens of thousands of individuals who marched on June 11th. Because this bill has not yet passed the Senate, it reaffirms the importance of the upcoming midterm elections. You have the power to vote for the future of the gun violence prevention movement. The power of protest got us this far, now we need you to maintain the momentum by voting this November.