Weapons ban extension necessary, immunity provision not

On Super Tuesday, two key players were noticeably absent. Senators John Kerry D-Mass., and John Edwards D-N.C. were instead in Washington D.C., where they were ultimately supporting and banning the same bill simultaneously. This bill was initially brought to the Senate in order to extend the assault weapons ban, which will expire in September. However, after amendments were added that would ultimately protect gun manufacturers from liability, the once supportive Senate blatantly opposed the bill with a vote of 90-8, as reported by the New York Post. In order for the assault weapons ban to be renewed with the most effectiveness, it needs to be passed in its original state, without the last minute GOP ad-ins.

“This bill, if enacted, will be a license to be irresponsible,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. told the Portland Press Herald of the last minute amendment.

On Sept. 13, the assault weapons ban, which was instated by former President Bill Clinton, will expire. Initially, an extension amendment was approved by a vote of 52-47 as reported by the Herald, which would have reinstated the ban on sales of what are known as “weapons of war.”

In addition to the extension, what was known as the gun show provision was approved by a vote of 53-46. The provision would call for background checks on all purchases at gun shows, in addition to the current standard which requires background checks before sales of firearms of any kind.

The issue became complicated when the immunity amendment, which was supported by President George W. Bush, was slipped into the bill at the last minute. The GOP was trying to lift the responsibility off the manufacturers of selling dangerous weapons to people who could potentially misuse them. It is apparent from the outcome that the majority of lawmakers did not share the same feelings. Both parties will try to revive the ban later this year as the Post reported.

Bill Harwood of Citizens Against Handgun Violence told the Herald he hopes that Congress will separate the notions and extend the weapons ban and require background checks.

“We are very pleased that the immunity bill was defeated …We are also pleased with having the Senate go on record in favor of extending the assault weapons ban,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, since the ban was initially implemented, crimes involving the banned weapons have dropped approximately 65 percent. It is apparent from numbers such as these that this ban is essential for the safety of Americans. On the same note, it is equally necessary for manufacturers of these weapons to take responsibility for contributing to this protection. Granting them immunity is not the answer.