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June 22, 2016

Partisan divide continues in Congress over gun control reform

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Essential question

Why have gun control laws been difficult to pass in the U.S.?


Democrats once again attempted to push forward gun control legislation this week, a week after the massacre at an Orlando nightclub became the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

In the Senate, Democrats introduced four gun control bills involving measures such as expanded background checks and a ban on gun sales to individuals suspected of having ties to terrorism. All four bills failed Monday after failing to secure the 60 vote minimum.

Voting for the bills fell mainly along party lines. Democratic party leaders claim Republicans cave to outside interests from the National Rifle Association, while the GOP leadership said the measures did little to address the real problems behind mass shootings.

Democrats made their case citing recent polls suggesting that a majority of Americans support increased gun control, such as a Reuters/Ipsos survey that found that about 71 percent support strong or moderate restrictions.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, decided not to hear an appeal on the assault weapons ban put in place in Connecticut and New York following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, which killed 20 children and 6 adults.

Today, a group of Democratic members of the House of Representatives staged a sit-in on the House floor to demand a vote on gun control measures.

 


Key terms

assault weapon — a term used to define some types of firearms; usually refers to semi-automatic firearms with a detachable magazine

partisan — a firm adherence to a party, cause or person

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What is gun control?
  2. Do you support gun safety measures like background checks?
  3. Why do you think most people support a ban on assault weapons?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Do you think Americans should be able to own AR-15s assault weapons like the one used in the Orlando shooting?
  2. What are the arguments on both sides of the Remington gun manufacturer lawsuit?
  3. What is the significance of the U.S. Supreme Court not hearing arguments on assault weapons’ bans?
  4. In what way could Democratic and Republican lawmakers work together more to pass sensible gun control measures?
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