Gun control grabs midterm election focus after deadly synagogue shooting

World Today

Gun control is a key issue in some races. The simmering debate again reached a boil last month, as a gunman killed 11 in a Pennsylvania synagogue. Most governing party Republican candidates oppose new restrictions – many opposition Democrats support them. CGTN’s Sean Callebs looks at each side.

“You hit center mass, which is what you’re looking to do to stop the threat,” gun shop owner Juan Lopez told me. “We’re looking to stop the threat; we are not looking to kill.”

Lopez has owned and operated Shooter Ready, a Denver gun store for seven years. Gun education and training, such as a simulator, is a big part of his business.

“And then you get into this,” he said, pointing at a revolver printed in the red, white and blue of the American flag, “People who have firearms collections and want to spice it up a little bit.”

It’s clear that selling guns is the company’s bread and butter. Guns — and the hot-button issue of gun control — are on his mind, as well as those of voters, as the U.S. prepares for the Nov. 6 midterm election.

“These are the evil black guns everyone talks about,” he said, pointing to a rack containing AR-15’s. These are the types of guns that have caused so much heartbreak in the United States after being used in a multitude of mass shootings. The latest slaughter happened a little more than a week ago, at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eleven people died. Many others were wounded. There is a small army of people, including former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who are fighting for stricter gun control.

“There’s 12,000 people who are going to get killed this year with guns, and 19,000 are going to commit suicide with guns,” he said. “We are not going to walk away from these efforts.”

Last month, Bloomberg, a former Republican and independent, re-registered with the Democratic party and is considering a presidential run in 2020. He is investing tens of millions of dollars of his massive fortune, to support candidates who want tougher gun laws. Among his proposals: raising the age limit to 21 to buy a semi-automatic; imposing stiffer requirements for firearm storage; and conducting better background checks.

The National Rifle Association, a powerful gun lobby that boasts six-million members, isn’t spending as much money on gun-friendly candidates in this year’s election has it has in the past.
But it does have its own broadcast now, to trumpet its message that ‘enough is enough’, and has joined legal challenges to stricter gun control legislation. That takes us back to Juan Lopez, who also thinks the U.S. has enough gun laws.

“Does everybody have a right to a firearm,” he asks. He answers his own question with a resounding yes, but then admits that some limits could be justified.

“I feel that they should go through a background check,” he said. “I have no problem going though a background check.”

But Lopez does believe the U.S. government is trying to take guns away from its citizens. In his words, punishing the many to protect the few. Speaking of the few, he’s has a rare permit to legally own a short barrel rifle with a silencer, but admits that it serves no practical purpose.

When asked, “why would a civilian need some a gun like this,” he concedes, “Is there an actual purpose for a civilian to own this this? I can honestly say, no, there isn’t.”

The bottom line is that nothing has stopped mass killers so far, but a determined group are vowing to keep up their fight for new restrictions. They say the status quo on gun legislation just isn’t good enough.