15:50 GMT16 April 2021
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    The push for new US gun legislation has intensified in the wake of recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado. On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden called on Republican and Democratic members of the Senate to rally and pass a pair of gun reform bills that seek to expand background check requirements for prospective gun owners.

    The South Carolina Senate Family and Veteran’s Services subcommittee on Tuesday voted 2-1, in favor of holding a full committee vote on S.614, a bill that seeks to expand "organized militia" membership from "able-bodied male citizens" between 18 and 45, to all state residents over 17. 

    Republican State Senator Tom Corbin, who proposed the bill, told the Associated Press the bill "would prevent the federal government from ever confiscating any of your weapons. Because at the end of the day, the federal government cannot disarm a standing army." 

    Under the proposed legislation, anyone over the age of 17 "shall have the right to possess and keep all arms that could be legally acquired or possessed by a South Carolina citizen as of December 31, 2020." 

    Said arms include, but are not limited to, "shouldered rifles and shotguns, handguns, clips [and] magazines." 

    The bill also highlights an "unorganized militia member" is welcome to "resign at any time" and resume "civilian status." 

    As the proposal moves on to a full committee vote in the South Carolina State Senate, some of Corbin's colleagues argue that the bill is an overreaction to possible federal gun legislation. 

    "I would like to see if we have any type of documentation or evidence where the federal government is coming into people's homes. I keep hearing that but I just don't see any indication," Democratic State Senator Kevin Johnson said. "Most of the folks that I know respect people's right to bear arms."

    While US gun legislation has been a constant topic for years, the Monday mass shooting in Boulder, as well as the March 16 mass shootings in Atlanta have brought a number of gun law concerns - such as background checks - to a national conversation.

    A view of King Soopers grocery store the morning after the mass shooting, in Boulder, Colorado, U.S., March 23, 2021.
    © REUTERS / ALYSON MCCLARAN
    A view of King Soopers grocery store the morning after the mass shooting, in Boulder, Colorado, U.S., March 23, 2021.

    Biden delivered a Tuesday address to the American public, urging senators to "immediately pass the two House-passed bills to close loopholes in the background check system." 

    The two bills, HR 8 and HR 1446, narrowly passed in the House following overwhelmingly partisan votes earlier this month. Prior to the recent shootings, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pledged to bring the bills to a vote in the chamber to "see where people stand." 

    Former US President Barack Obama also condemned the recent mass shootings in a statement, arguing lawmakers should "make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war." 

    "We should be able to live our lives without wondering if the next trip outside our home could be our last," he wrote. "We should. But in America, we can't." 

    As lawmakers from both sides of the aisle extend thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, there remain differences in how to approach addressing gun violence and the purchase of firearms in the US. Furthermore, some Americans consider the implementation of stricter gun laws to be an infringement on their Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

    Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) argued during a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence that the issue needs to be put "in perspective." 

    He went on to compare, "not perfectly equate," drunk drivers to mass shooters.  

    "We have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people. We oughta combat that, too," he said. "I think what many folks on my side of the aisle are saying is the answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers, the answer is to concentrate on the problem." 

    "When a Muslim jihadist blows up a school full of school children, we are often told not to condemn all of the actions of those of the Muslim faith because of the actions of a few. And I agree with that," Kennedy said. "So why doesn't the same rule apply to the 100 million-plus gun owners in America who are exercising their constitutional right?"

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    Tags:
    Second Amendment, Mass Shootings, Joe Biden, US gun laws
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