Over the weekend, the United States experienced two separate tragedies. On Aug. 3, at least 22 people were killed in El Paso, Texas, and nine people were killed in Dayton, Ohio, in separate mass shootings. The back-to-back events have kicked the conversation about gun reform into high gear, and if you're wondering how to call your senator about gun control, here's some info. It's such an easy process.
First things first, you need to find your state's senator. Lucky for us, it's quick and easy to do. Just head to the U.S. Senate website, and at the top left of the website there's a tab labeled "find your senators." From there, just click and a drop-zadown menu with all the states will appear. Once clicking your state, the senator's name and information (including email and phone number) will be available. Then, call your senator and let them know that you want to see action towards gun control, and mention legislation that you support. A note: always try to call, rather than email, as it's more likely that you'll get your message across.
One measure that you might want to bring to your senator's attention is H.R. 8, also known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. According to the legislation, this bill would establish new universal background check systems and requirements for transfers of firearms between private sellers. Importantly, it would prohibit private sales unless the gun dealer or manufacturer takes possession of the firearm first and performs a background check. Currently, there is no federal law requiring background checks for private sales — meaning that it's easy for people to legally buy guns without a background check. A 2017 study by Harvard University and Northwestern University found that 22% of those who had bought a gun in the previous two years had done so without a background check, and in states that did not require a background check for private sales, that number was as high as 57%. A 2015 estimate from Harvard University found that some 40% of gun owners had not gone through a background check to acquire their gun.
H.R. 8 was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California, and introduced in January 2018. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Feb. 27 with a 240-190 vote, but it has yet to be voted on by the Senate. So, in order to see this bill get its moment on the floor, a quick call to your state's senator might add fuel to the fire.
As of Aug. 7, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not taken any action on the bill, which has earned him criticism from political opponents. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed his support for the bill. On Sunday, Aug. 4, Schumer released a statement calling for McConnell to call a vote immediately on the universal background check bill. Schumer's statement read,
One awful event after another. Leader McConnell must call the Senate back for an emergency session to put the House-passed universal background checks legislation on the Senate floor for debate and a vote immediately.
Other politicians, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Rep. Ted Lieu of California, and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, also called for McConnell to allow a vote on the legislation. McConnell's office did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the criticisms, or on whether he would allow a vote on the bill.
Another bill in the works is H.R. 1112, which extends the number of days that authorities have to complete a background check. It was approved by the House on Feb. 28, but again, has not been taken up in the Senate.
As of Aug. 7, there have been more than 250 mass shootings in the United States in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks gun violence. That means there's been more shootings in the nation than days this year. No matter what you think will work, the only way change will happen is if you stand up and speak out.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your cell phone, start dialing, and let your senators know what you want.