Over the past few months, the Democratic Party has found itself divided internally over differing policies and views. Now, after what the Washington Post has coined a “bloody summer” because of the four mass shootings, Democrats are split again over disagreements on how to pursue background checks and impose a ban on assault weapons.
Fed up, the heads of 145 major companies are getting involved by sending a letter urging lawmakers to enact bills already on the table, mainly surrounding background checks and “red flag” laws that would keep guns out of the hands of people deemed mentally unfit to own them.
“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable,” the corporate chiefs wrote to senators in a letter, reported by the New York Times.
The letter’s signatories include Levi Strauss, as well as Twitter and Uber corporate chiefs. It urges the “Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives,” regarding gun control.
Inaction on the gun issue has prompted what The Times calls the “most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate.”
Gun control represents the “most polarizing” issue facing the nation, the letter said.
This polarization is seen even in the Democratic Party.
Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman from El Paso, has been campaigning for a buybacks system of the “millions of assault rifles currently owned by law-abiding Americans.”
He doesn’t just want to get most of them off the streets, he wants, “All of them,” as per a tweet, the Washington Post reports.
In response, a freshman Democrat Rep. Colin Allred from Dallas is worried O’Rourke’s reaction “breaks from tradition.”
He said, “I don’t think that in our country we’re ever going to really go around having any kind of mandatory program like that.”
While ideas like expanding background checks and removing guns from individuals deemed mentally unfit are ones supported by “more than 8 in 10 Americans, including self-identified Republicans,” the House Democrats seem to be “holding off.”
There isn’t a time scheduled to vote for a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban, even though it’s supported by 90 percent of the party’s members of Congress, according to the Washington Post.
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Cali.,), chairman of the “House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force” and “messenger” on gun legislation for Speaker Nancy Pelosi is an outspoken gun owner.
He’s earned the nickname “Top Gun” among his friends and colleagues.
But, when reporters asked about the new ban on assault weapons, he danced around a straight answer.
Thompson said, “What we have to do at this point is get the Senate to take up and pass the background check bill,” the Washington Post reports. “That bill saves lives right away, and we don’t have to do any more than that at this time.”
Other Representatives agreed that shifting focus to the background-checks bill would be worth their time, instead of a buyback program or assault weapons ban.
However, a different bill introduced to the house advocating for assault weapons ban already has 211 co-sponsors. Even more dizzying, Democratic Rep. David N. Cicilline, the original sponsor of the assault weapons ban bill, now believes it makes more sense to focus on the background-checks bill.
Critics are hoping the Democratic Party can reach a consensus on where it stands so bills can be passed. Many worry that while the Representatives hash it out over committees and on twitter, that another mass shooting could occur.
To help drive their point home, the business leaders included in their letter that “Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable. We need our lawmakers to support common-sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies like these.”