It’s been a year since a gunman terrorized the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 dead and an entire generation mobilized against gun violence. As the grief reverberated throughout the Parkland survivors, a few of them like David Hogg, Emma González and Cameron Kasky channeled their trauma into activism, becoming social media pros, cable news regulars and founders of March For Our Lives, which aimed to reform gun control laws.
While public opinion was with them (the most recent Gallup poll on gun control found 6 in 10 Americans support stricter gun control laws), Congress was slow to move. President Donald Trump seemed initially open to new gun control legislation, even saying he would “fight” the NRA, but soon backed off such promises, telling a cheering crowd in May that “Your Second Amendment rights are under siege. But they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president.”
But following gains Democrats made in the House during the 2018 midterms, Congress has been inching toward some limited gun control reform measures. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a measure that would require background checks on all gun sales and most gun transfers. The Washington Post called it “the most significant gun control legislation to advance this far in Congress in years.”
The measure passed the committee 21 to 14 and gained the surprise support of five Republicans, even though the issue is frequently divided along partisan lines. “I ask that we work together not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans, to end this silence with action to make all of our communities safer from gun violence,” said Florida Representative Ted Deutch who held a moment of silence on the House floor for the victims of the Parkland shooting. “I ask that this moment of silence not be in vain.”
Deutch read a letter from Patricia Oliver, whose son was killed at Parkland. “It is within your power to enact common-sense gun laws,” her letter read. “I implore you to think about the kids. Think about how you would feel if it was your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter, because it could be.”
The bill is likely to pass in the House but faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Nevertheless, many of the House’s newly elected Democrats made gun law reform a central part of their legislation, meaning the issue isn’t likely to go away one way or the other.