The US Senate has rejected plans to limit the sale of firearms, proposed in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando earlier this month, which left 49 innocent people dead.
The Senate rejected four separate plans, with Republican and Democrat senators voting along party lines with little cross-party support for bills including provisions that would restrict the sale of guns to people named on the US terrorism watchlist.
Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski said:
“Why is it we would go through such incredible scrutiny to board an airplane to protect me against terrorist, and yet we have no scrutiny of the people on the terrorist watch list to be able to buy a gun?”
Republicans disagree about the gun problem in the US, and argue that the high numbers of mass shootings the country has suffered is a result of extremism and mental health problems, and not guns, which they describe as a “tool”.
Republican Senator John Cornyn said:
“Our colleagues want to make this about gun control when what we should be making this about is the fight to eliminate the Islamic extremism that is the root cause for what happened in Orlando.”
The gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), has a lot of influence in Washington, with their support integral to the re-election campaigns on many politicians, especially in the South. Despite gun sales increasing under the presidency of Barack Obama, the NRA continues to campaign on the premise that the government wants to take away people’s access to guns, a right enshrined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
The US has the highest gun ownership rates in the world, with 88.8 guns per 100 people, nearly double the rate of any other country, according to the Washington Post. The US also has one of the highest rates of death by gun in the world, with 3.2 homicides by gun per 100,000 people, the highest of any developed country.