Gun Control Legislation is Inevitable! Here’s Why

Photo by Slowking4 | via Wikimedia Commons
Written by Guy Nave

While I provide a specific action plan at the end of this article, allow me to simply say that American democracy cannot allow for 80% of Americans to be ignored. It’s that simple.

Here’s why Americans feel gun control legislation will never pass

I understand why it’s difficult for many (if not most) Americans to believe gun control legislation will ever be implemented.

Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Santa Fe High School, and now Robb Elementary School, are just a few of several dozens of school shootings in the U.S. over the past three decades.

There have been 27 school shootings so far in 2022 and more than 200 mass shootings this year.

Seven of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have happened in the last 10 years, and there has been no significant gun control legislation passed. Virtually every mass shooting has been followed by political inaction, despite the demand for action from most Americans

In the ten years since Sandy Hook, gun laws in the U.S. haven’t changed much, and unfortunately, most Americans have bought into a narrative that there is nothing they can do because politicians won’t do anything.

The problem is not the politicians

While it’s easy to blame politicians, it’s important to remember that politicians are elected by American voters.

If 70% of Americans support an assault weapons ban and more than 80% of Americans favor common-sense gun control legislation, then this majority of Americans need to elect politicians who favor common-sense gun control legislation.

Every U.S. senator opposed to passing gun control legislation was elected by American voters, often by a small percentage of eligible voters. Despite the record turnout of voters in 2020, still, nearly 40% of eligible voters did not vote.

Even though most Americans favor, gun control legislation, politicians feel no political pressure to pass gun control legislation. This is because American voters place little pressure on politicians to pass gun control legislation. Few Americans prioritize the issue of gun control legislation when it comes time to vote.

Politicians cater to the priorities of voters. If voters are not going to vote them in or out because of an issue, then they’re not going to care about that issue.

Politicians care less about the concerns of the general American public and more about the concerns of American voters, especially their electoral constituency.

Texas senator Ted Cruz committed to speaking at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention held in Houston, Texas on Friday, May 27, just days after the Uvalde, Texas school shooting. The Robb Elementary School shooting is the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and the second deadliest in the nation. Senator Cruz, however, feels no pressure to oppose the NRA and to support gun control legislation — probably because he has received more money from gun rights supporters than any other member of Congress.

Immediately after the murders in Uvalde, Texas, Cruz responded by saying that gun control will not help and that “we need to devote far more law enforcement resources to stopping violent criminals” — suggesting that more guns are the solution to gun violence in America. Cruz even defends the NRA, claiming the NRA stands up for people’s rights.

American voters have to prioritize gun control legislation

Because a politician’s motive is to be elected or reelected, they want to represent the priorities of those who financially support them and who can vote them into or out of office. If gun control legislation is not among those priorities, there is no pressure to support gun control legislation, even if most Americans claim to want such legislation.

Ted Cruz is not worried about being voted out of Congress, even though a February poll showed that only 34% of Texans felt gun laws should be left as they are now and 16 percent wanted less strict laws. That means half of Texans voters are not necessarily in favor of current gun laws in Texas.

That number could possibly increase in response to the Uvalde, Texas school shootings. Eligible voters, however, have to let Texas politicians know that gun legislation crafted to protect Texans is a priority.

The power of prioritizing gun control legislation was revealed in the 2018 midterm elections.

In 2018, Democrats ran strongly on the issue of guns, universal background checks, and banning assault weapons. They turned out voters that normally stayed home during the midterms, and as a result, Democrats won the House.

When voters came to the polls in 2018 and elected a Democratic majority in the House, it was with the explicit purpose of getting gun legislation passed. That’s exactly what the House did.

That legislation, however, has stalled in the Senate because not a single Republican senator feels any pressure to pass gun control legislation, even though there is substantial support among Republicans for stricter gun control legislation.

While the Senate may be divided on gun control, the American public is not. The vast majority of Americans favor stricter gun control laws. American voters, however, need to prioritize gun control laws and make it clear to U.S. senators that they are willing to prioritize gun control laws when voting for a candidate.

In an impassioned speech just after the Robb Elementary School shooting, that left 19 children and two adults dead, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr criticized the U.S. Senate for failing to represent the desire of the American people:

Fifty senators in Washington are going to hold us hostage. Do you realize that 90 percent of Americans, regardless of political party, want background checks — universal background checks? Ninety percent of us. We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put it to a vote, despite what we, the American people, want.

While I agree with Kerr’s sentiments, those 50 senators are not holding Americans hostage. They are representing what they believe to be the priorities of the people who voted (and/or will vote) for them.

American voters get what they vote (or don’t vote for).

If 90% of Americans want gun control legislation, then they need to make gun control legislation a priority in the 2022 elections.

An action plan for getting the Senate to pass gun control legislation

If you are part of the 80–90 percent of Americans that support gun control legislation, then you need to contact your senators immediately and let them know this is a priority for you and that you are only willing to vote for candidates for whom it is a priority.

It is time to stop complaining and time to take action. It is time for our U.S. senators to experience unrelenting pressure from their constituents.

Go to the U.S. Senate website “contact” page, and type your state in the top drop-down box. You will immediately be taken to a page showing you your senators and their D.C. mailing address and phone number. While you can call their D.C. phone number, it may be more effective to use their local contact information.

Once on the page with your senators’ D.C. information, you can click their name to get their local mailing address, phone number, and oftentimes email address. If you email, there is often an option to receive an email reply response.

Let them know you are a constituent, that you want them not only to make passing gun control legislation a priority but that you want them to make it a core element of their 2022 campaign, and that you will be voting in the 2022 election for the candidate who makes gun control legislation (e.g. universal background checks, red flag laws, etc) a priority.

This is why gun control legislation is inevitable

If the 80–90 percent of Americans who support gun control legislation do this, there is no way the democratic process will allow their desire to be denied.

If you are willing to take action and contact your senator, please leave a response saying so, leave several claps to encourage other readers to take action as well, share this article with everyone you know who favors gun control legislation, and ask them to respond, clap, and share also.

Passing gun control legislation IS inevitable if the 80–90 percent of Americans who favor such legislation make passing such legislation a priority.

Let’s get this done! It’s definitely within our power!

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About the author

Guy Nave

Guy Nave is a professor of religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. His research focuses on the topics of Christianity, religion and social justice, the social construction of religious meaning, and race-religion-and-politics. Professor Nave is currently researching the power, politics, and meaning behind the rhetoric of "change."

He is the author of several articles and book chapters, and he served as a New Testament Greek translator for the 2011 Common English Bible. His commentary on 2 Corinthians is published in the African American New Testament Commentary, and his book, The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts has been identified as “the standard scholarly work on repentance in the New Testament.”

Guy Nave received his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Yale University. In addition to his blog posts here, he is a frequent contributor to Sojourners Magazine's online "Commentary" blog series.

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