A gun safety group and the sponsors of the 2022 U.S. Senate bill are calling for more stringent measures

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and a coalition of physicians advocated for Congress to pass tougher gun safety regulations on Tuesday.

Congress should rely on the 2022 Gun Control Act in the wake of high-profile mass shootings, Durbin, Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy and about 80 members of OnCall4Kids, a group of doctors and health care workers advocating for stricter regulations, said at a news conference Tuesday regarding weapons.

“There is an ongoing phenomenon in America that I am very ashamed to say that we have allowed to occur and continue to exist for far too long: gun violence,” said Durbin, an Illinois Democrat.

Speakers included Emily and Elliot Lieberman of Illinois and Ashlee Jaffe of Pennsylvania, survivors of the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022, in which seven people were killed.

“Due to my injuries, it is unlikely that I will ever be able to do my job again.” Jaffesaid a pediatric physical therapist who was shot in the hand and suffered nerve damage.

Speakers urged Congress to adopt an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, legislation to regulate the storage of firearms, and restrictions on the sale, transfer, and receipt of gas-powered semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines.

However, in a divided Congress where Democrats control the Senate and Republicans have a majority in the House, it is unlikely that any gun safety legislation will be passed.

Durbin urged voters to elect candidates who will pass gun safety laws.

“What we must do and say as American voters: ‘We are going to the polls to elect women and men who have a sense of responsibility to change this situation once and for all and eliminate gun threats,'” Durbin said.

The news conference was held ahead of Friday’s two-year anniversary of the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers.

“We are losing a generation of children in this country to the trauma of gun violence,” Murphy said.

Their unnecessary, senseless loss haunts me. The piercing screams of their parents pierce me.

– Dr. Sofia Chaudhary, pediatrician

This mass shooting, coupled with another that occurred in Buffalo, New York, in which white supremacists targeted a predominantly Black neighborhood and killed 10 Black people, led to the adoption of gun safety legislation in 2022.

Murphy led a coalition of 20 bipartisan senators to pass the bill.

This law led to creation from the White House Office to Prevent Gun Violence, allocated $750 million for states to pass “red flag laws,” provided $11 billion for mental health services for schools and families and aimed to curb the illegal gun trade, known as buy-in straw deal, where a buyer can purchase a gun for someone else.

“Incremental Progress”

While the legislation was historic — it was the first time in 30 years that Congress had passed a comprehensive gun safety bill — many Democrats noted that it did not ban assault weapons, a term that generally refers to semi-automatic rifles or high-capacity magazines.

Shooters used these weapons in seven of the deadliest mass shootings of the last decade, according to the Giffords Law Center, an organization that researches and advocates for ending gun violence.

“Let’s not judge legislation by what it doesn’t do, but by what it does do,” said then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, as the bill was being passed in the House.

Several OnCall4Kids speakers mentioned that they are grateful for the gun safety legislation passed by Congress almost two years ago, but there is still much work to be done.

“Incremental progress is still progress,” said Emily Lieberman. “Yet gun deaths continue to rise.”

Elliot Lieberman said guns are the leading cause of death among children.

“If your child dies in this country, the most likely cause is not drowning. It won’t be a car accident or even cancer,” Elliot said. “It’s a bullet.”

Sofia Chaudhary, a pediatric emergency room physician in Atlanta, has advocated for legislation requiring the secure storage of firearms. She said this kind of legislation could save the lives of several of her patients – including a one-month-old baby – who were unintentionally shot by other children

“These patients haunt me,” she said. “I am haunted by their unnecessary, senseless loss. The piercing screams of their parents pierce me.

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