In the last article from the LWV in the Herald, we explained that, in addition to extensive work relating to elections, the League takes positions on public policy issues. The League takes these positions after careful study, reaching a consensus among its members and then officially adopting a position.
The League has been actively involved in advocating for reasonable gun controls for over 30 years; its statement of position was adopted at the national convention in 1990, and amended by the 1994 and 1998 national conventions.
In summary, the League of Women Voters believes that the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons is a major health and safety threat to the citizens of the United States. As such, the League supports strong federal measures to limit gun accessibility and to regulate the ownership of these weapons by private citizens.
Specifically, the League supports licensing procedures for gun ownership by private citizens that include (1) a waiting period for background checks, (2) personal identity verification, (3) gun safety education and (4) annual license renewal. Further, the League supports (1) a ban on “Saturday night specials”, (2) enforcement of strict penalties for the improper possession of and crimes committed with handguns and assault weapons, and (3) regulating and monitoring gun dealers.
Over the ensuing years, the League, at both the national and the state levels, has been actively involved in taking multiple steps, including filing amicus briefs in support of other organizations seeking gun safety, testifying before state legislatures, meeting with community leaders, etc. Recent activity by the LWV on gun safety includes the submission of recommendations to the Congressional Judiciary Committees (May 22, 2022) to (1) close the gun show loophole, (2) provide universal background checks, (3) ban military style assault weapons and place limits on high-capacity magazine size, (4) increase penalties for “straw” purchases of guns, and (5) fund research on gun violence in America.
There are countless gun control advocacy organizations, in addition to the 500,000 strong LWV, continually seeking some movement in gun control. Multiple polls show that the majority of Americans of both parties support sensible gun control laws. However, because many of our representatives are beholden to various gun rights groups for the financial support needed to get re-elected, there has been little real improvement.
What to do? We the people have the power of the vote, and we must use that power.
Before every election, organizations including the League of Women Voters and the media ask the candidates relevant questions about issues of importance, such as their position on gun safety. Some candidates chose not to respond to these questions, but we can insist – withholding our votes from those who fail to share their positions with their constituents.
Once we understand where each candidate stands on gun safety and gun control, we can support those candidates who support our views. And we can hold our candidates accountable once they are in office. Our vote is our power. Our vote will save lives.
It’s tough to be a politician today: Politicians who don’t cooperate with the gun lobby risk losing their financial support. But financial support cannot ensure the votes of the electorate, and we the people can and must achieve change when our lives and the lives of our children are at stake.