The night after the U.S. midterm elections, a gunman opened fire inside a California bar killing 12 people.
Democrats long promised that if they won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, gun reform would be a priority.
And now they will have control. So what will happen to U.S. gun laws?
Here’s a look at what Democrats promised
Democrat minority house leader Nancy Pelosi, who is now hoping to lead the house, promised to take on the issue of gun control by strengthening gun background checks.
Several other Democrat candidates campaigned on gun reform promises — and won.
One notable example is Colorado’s Jason Crow who ousted Rep. Mike Coffman, who received thousands of dollars from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Crow campaigned in favour of more detailed background checks for gun owners and banning assault weapons according to Buzzfeed News.
The NRA had given Crow an “F” rating, The New York Times reported, and boasted that Coffman would protect Second Amendment rights, giving him an “A.”
Jooyoung Lee, a University of Toronto sociology professor who studies gun control, explained to Global News that these promises are likely to face many hurdles.
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“For a bill to become law, it has to be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, then it has to be ratified by the president,” Lee explained.
He noted that the Senate remains in Republican control.
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“It’s a tall order because the NRA is really bankrolling the careers of the Senate majority GOP,” he said, explaining politicians like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have received large sums of campaign money from the NRA.
The president is unlikely to pass a bill that would “alienate” his base supporters, who are largely against gun control, Lee said.
Reaction to California shooting
Wednesday night’s shooting prompted outcry from Democrat politicians, who renewed calls for gun reform.
Among them was California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who tweeted that mass shootings are driven by various factors but made possible by “easy access to guns.”
Feinstein said that California, which has among the strongest gun control laws in the country, needs the federal government to take action.
“Some will say California’s strong gun laws didn’t prevent this shooting, but without stronger federal gun regulations, there’s little California can do to keep guns coming in from other states,” she wrote.
The senator added that several bills strengthening gun control can “be on the president’s desk by Thanksgiving,” but Republicans refuse to take action.
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California Congresswoman Susan Davis also tweeted about the news, writing:
“More shattered lives due to gun violence. Come January, thoughts and prayers will become debate and votes in the House.”
Pelosi also issued a statement saying that Americans “deserve real action to end the daily epidemic of gun violence.”
“House Democrats will fight to pass bipartisan, commonsense solutions to prevent gun violence in communities across the country,” she wrote.
Midterm election mixed results for gun laws
Several congressional candidates backed by the National Rifle Association lost in the midterm election, including some high-profile races in Virginia, Texas and Colorado.
But the losses of NRA-backed candidates were bittersweet for Parkland, Fla., activists, who survived a mass shooting at their high school in February.
The survivors had spent months leading up to the election pushing youth to vote, even touring the country.
But on Tuesday, their home state voted pro-gun rights politicians as governor and to the Senate.
One of those activists, Jacyln Corin, told The Guardian that she was “shaking with anger” at the results.
“It’s like the same feeling I was getting the night of 14 February, so angry that I don’t know what to do with that anger,” she said.
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But the students, who formed the advocacy group March For Our Lives, took to Twitter saying that the results won’t deter them from fighting on with their agenda of pushing for greater gun control.
The group also boasted of results in Washington state, where voters passed a measure that toughed background checks for people buying semi-automatic rifles.
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The Initiative 1639 measure will now raise the legal age of purchasing such rifles to 21 from 18 in the state. It also includes more training and background check requirements for prospective firearm buyers.
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