The United States Senate on Monday night rejected four proposals brought in by lawmakers on controlling guns in the wake of the shooting at a gay club in Orlando, which left 49 people dead. Different gun controls measures were recommended by the Democrats and Republicans, but neither party could come to an agreement, leaving all four options without enough votes.
While the Republicans maintained their stand that the Orlando massacre had nothing to do with guns and everything to do with “Islamic extremism”, Democrats argued that one way of keeping terrorism in check was to safeguard against terrorists getting easy access to weapons. The Republicans, however, maintained that any move to control gun ownership was an infringement of the country’s constitutional right to bear arms.
The Republicans had proposed laws that would prosecute perpetrators more strictly but keep background checks optional, while the Democrats had suggested making background checks compulsory for people buying guns, and denying access those on the terror watchlist access to weapons.
The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, had been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013, but was not on the country’s terror watchlist. While he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during the shooting, it is unclear whether he was ever directly affiliated to the militant group.
Gun control in the US is a polarising issue. The Republicans, backed by gun lobby National Rifle Association, continue to argue against any move that reduces people's access to guns. Democrats, on the other hand, have been trying to push for stricter checks on who can buy them. The proposals introduced in the Senate were the result of a 15-hour filibuster by Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, who said he had “had enough” and urged his fellow lawmakers to act.
More people die in America from gun-related violence than terrorism every year.