Tara Langworthy, spokesperson for the Hudson Valley chapter of gun violence prevention organization Moms Demand Action, feels encouraged by the latest turn in the fight against gun violence.
She said that with the combination of senators with negative records on gun reform legislation retiring and strong public support for common sense gun reform, there may be an avenue to accomplish feasible solutions.
“[The Senate] is forced to confront this issue,” she said. “They all know it.”
Proposals such as enforcing lengthy background checks and enacting red flag laws that allow for temporary removal of guns from the possession of those who pose a danger to others or themselves typically receive around 70 percent support according to public opinion polling. A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll that was taken before the shootings in Atlanta, Boulder, Colorado and Orange, California showed 84 percent support.
Having President Biden on the bully pulpit helps advance this cause as well according to Langworthy. When he was a senator, he was one of the major proponents of the assault weapons ban and Violence Against Women Act, which were passed as part of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (also known as the Crime Bill).
“President Biden has a record to stand on,” she said. “He is also someone who understands loss and has a great amount of empathy,” referring to the multiple family tragedies he has endured.
An ongoing lawsuit pursued by New York State Attorney General Leticia James against the National Rifle Association for corruption allegations might also provide a shift in the fight for common sense gun laws, but Langworthy believes another gun lobbying organization will fill the vacuum left by the NRA should the lawsuit prove successful.
“The NRA will be vastly monitored for how they raise money, if not closed down,” she said. “There will be other platforms looking to fill in the void.”
Langworthy brought up the subject of how gun reform law conversations shift to conversations about reform in mental health law in the wake of mass shootings, when the number one cause of gun-related deaths is suicide and not homicide.
“These mass shootings happen at random and are horrific, but we have to remember that the greatest number of gun deaths are related to suicide,” she said, “and often times, suicides can be prevented if the guns are stored safely.”
One of the reasons why national gun laws have been so hard to get enacted is because of the so-called Charleston loophole, nicknamed after the law that allowed for Dylann Roof to enter an African American church with an assault rifle, is another reason why laws have been difficult to pass.
This loophole allows gun dealers to still sell a gun without a complete three-day background check.
“It’s so easy to walk out of a store with an A.R. 15,” she said. “You could be planning on doing something bad that day, and that’s a bad sign.”
Another issue is the differences in state laws on gun restrictions nationwide. She feels consistency in laws will not only reduce homicides across the country, but suicides.
“It’s like with voting rights,” she said. “States can decide which laws they can pass to restrict or not restrict gun access, and that’s what can be challenging.”