“Grand Canyon Divide” Between Republican And Democratic Parties On Gun Control; 59% Of Public Support Assault Weapon Ban And 81% Support Background Checks; Background Checks Not Enough

The on line publication Mother Jones has compiled a database of mass shooting from 1982 to the present. The data base is broken down by location, date, summary of the facts, the number of fatalities, and the number of injured. The Mother Jones data base list 114 mass shooting that have occurred from August 20, 1982 to the August 4, 2019 Dayton, Ohio shooting of 9 killed and 27 injured. You can review the entire Mother Jones data base here:


From 1995 to June 13, 2019 the United States has had 97 mass shootings. 11 of the largest mass shootings in American history have now taken place in the United States in just the last few years. The mass shooting with semiautomatic guns in the include: Orlando, Florida (49 killed, 50 injured), Blacksburg, Va. (32 killed), San Ysidro, Cal (21 killed), San Bernardino, (14 killed), Edmond Oklahoma (14 killed), Fort Hood (13 killed), Binghamton, NY (13 killed) Washington, DC (12 killed), Aurora, Colorado (12 killed), Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn (21 children and 6 adult staff members killed) Las Vegas, Nevada with at least 59 dead and at least 515 wounded, the Parkland/Stoneridge High School shooting that resulted in 17 children’s deaths and now El Paso, Texas, 22 killed and Detroit Michigan, 9 killed.

A list of the worst mass shootings in the United States in just the last 4 years has been compiled by the Los Angeles Times. You can read the facts and details of each one of those mass shootings at the below Los Angeles Times story link:


The August 3, 2019 the mass shooting at El Paso, Texas where 22 people were shot and killed and 26 were seriously injured was done by a man armed with a military style assault rifle. The August 4, 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio where 9 were killed was done by a shooter in body armor wearing a mask and carrying a military style assault rifle and extra magazines. A National outrage has ensued after both shootings with renewed demands for gun control.


On Friday, August 9, 2019 President Trump indicated that he supported new legislation on “intelligent” background checks for gun purchases after the El Pao and Dayton shootings and said to reporters at the White House before leaving for vacation:

“On background checks, we have tremendous support for really common-sense, sensible, important background checks … [the issue] isn’t a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat. … We will see where NRA will be, but we need meaningful background checks … We don’t want people who are mentally ill, people who are sick, having guns.”

Trump added that he had spoken with the head of the National Rifle Association and touted his “great relationship” with the gun rights group, despite his apparent willingness to break from it on gun legislation. Trump noted that the NRA “… supported me very early and that’s been a great decision they made — we have Justice Kavanaugh, we have Justice Gorsuch, and they feel very strongly about the Second Amendment” referring to the two justices he nominated and that were confirmed by the US Senate to the Supreme Court.


If Trumps support of background checks and talking to the NRA sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Trump has reneged on his promises of background checks and gun control before after talking with the National Rifle Association (NRA).


On February 21, 2018, President Donald Trump met in the White House with over 40 people including the teenage survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 as well as the parents of those children killed in other school shootings. Trump also met with victims of the Las Vegas mass shootings where he promised gun control measures. In the meetings, demands were made that politics needs to be set aside and solutions found to stop the scourge of gun violence in the United States.

One suggested solution was to strengthen background checks to keep guns from the violent and the mentally ill. President Trump told the groups his administration would also look very strongly at background checks. After the Trump meetings at the White House with the victims, Trump came out in opposition to background checks. The NRA opposed any gun control provisions arguing the problem is not with guns but the criminals who are using the guns and law-abiding citizens’ rights under the second amendment should never be infringed upon.

Each time Trump has met with and talked with the NRA officials, Trump has done an about face and has done absolutely nothing. The NRA spent more than it ever did on the 2016 on election, more than $36 million. Trump by far was the largest beneficiary, with the NRA spending more than $21 million to help him with $9.6 million on ads and other pro-Trump materials, and another $12 million attacking Hillary Clinton.



The House of Representatives passed a bill in February of this year that would strengthen background checks on gun sales, but US Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell has so far refused to allow the bill to be voted upon by the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to call the Senate back to Washington for an emergency session to address recent mass shootings. Mc Connell claimed in an interview with Louisville radio station that gun control measures will be on the table when Congress reconvenes in September. McConnell specifically mentioned background checks, a measure that has failed to gain much ground in the Senate and is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association.


President Donald Trump does not support the ban on assault weapons. Trump has indicated he supports a federal “red flag law”, which would allow police to take away someone’s guns if there’s some proof of a risk of violence and mental illness and universal background checks, but has backtracked before after talking to the NRA.

All 2020 Democratic presidential candidates endorse some version of an assault weapons ban, a policy favored by a majority of Americans polled on the issue, with some candidates also advocating for a voluntary federal buyback program. For the most part, they promote Democratic themes like universal background checks and assault weapons ban paired with a ban on high-capacity magazines.

According to commentator German Lopez with VOX, an American news and opinion website:

“Even the most ambitious of the [Democratic] candidates’ gun control proposals don’t go far enough to seriously dent gun violence. America leads the developed world in gun violence, with gun death rates nearly four times that of Switzerland, five times that of Canada, 35 times that of the United Kingdom, and 53 times that of Japan. The core problem is the US simply has way too many guns and too much access to firearms, letting just about anyone obtain a weapon to carry out a mass shooting or more typical types of gun violence, whether suicides or homicides.”



“A Huffington Post/ YouGov poll found half of Americans surveyed say that members of Congress should take action to reduce mass shootings, a while just one-third say that shootings cannot be reduced through legislation. By an even broader margin, 60% to 25%, Americans say it’s possible to enact new gun regulations while still maintaining the right to bear arms.

Some 81% of Americans say they favor requiring background checks for gun buyers as part of an effort to stop mass shootings. Just 8% are opposed. A 59% majority say they favor banning “assault weapons,” with only about 23% opposed.

Background checks have overwhelming support among both Democrats, who back them 90% to 5% and Republicans who back them 83% to 9%.

An assault weapons ban sees Democrats again overwhelmingly supportive, 86% in favor, 9% opposed, and Republicans close to evenly divided, 39% in favor, 42% opposed.

“[Background checks were] nearly universally popular, even in polls that aren’t taken in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting. … The Washington Post’s polling director, Scott Clement, points out, most other polling in the past few years finds at least 50% support for banning assault-style weapons. Another post-shooting poll, from Morning Consult, also found significant backing for a ban.”



The Republican Party and Democratic Party platforms on gun control reflect a “Grand Canyon” divide that separates the two parties, very much like between Trump and all Democrats running for President. Below are Republican and Democratic Party platforms that reveal the stark contrast:


Right to obtain and store ammunition without registration

“We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment. We acknowledge, support, and defend the law-abiding citizen’s God-given right of self-defense. We call for the protection of such fundamental individual rights recognized in the Supreme Court’s decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago affirming that right, and we recognize the individual responsibility to safely use and store firearms. This also includes the right to obtain and store ammunition without registration. We support the fundamental right to self-defense wherever a law-abiding citizen has a legal right to be, and we support federal legislation that would expand the exercise of that right by allowing those with state-issued carry permits to carry firearms in any state that issues such permits to its own residents.”

Source: 2012 Republican Party Platform , Aug 27, 2012

Open more public land to hunting

“Republicans … strongly support an individual right to own guns, which is explicitly protected by the Constitution’s Second Amendment. Our Party honors the great American tradition of hunting and we applaud efforts by the Bush Administration to make more public lands available to hunters, to increase access to hunting clinics and safety programs for children and adults, and to improve opportunities for hunting for Americans with disabilities.”

Source: 2004 Republican Party Platform, p. 74 , Sep 1, 2004

No frivolous gun lawsuits, no gun licensing

“We believe the 2nd Amendment and all the rights guaranteed by it should enable law-abiding citizens throughout the country to own firearms in their homes for self-defense. We applaud those seeking to stop frivolous lawsuits against firearms manufacturers which is a transparent attempt to deprive citizens of their 2nd Amendment rights. We oppose federal licensing of law abiding gun owners & national gun registration as a violation of the 2nd Amendment and an invasion of privacy of honest citizens.”

Source: 2004 Republican Party Platform, p. 74 , Sep 1, 2004

Will protect right to bear arms

“We defend the constitutional right to bear arms. We oppose federal licensing of law-abiding gun owners and national gun registration as a violation of the Second Amendment and an invasion of privacy of honest citizens. Through programs like Project Exile, we will hold criminals individually accountable for their actions by strong enforcement of federal and state firearm laws, especially when guns are used in violent or drug-related crimes.”

Source: Republican Platform adopted at GOP National Convention , Aug 12, 2000




“With 33,000 Americans dying every year, Democrats believe that we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence.

We can respect the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping our communities safe. We will expand background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws, hold irresponsible dealers and manufacturers accountable, keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons—off our streets, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues.”

SOURCE: 2016 Democratic Party Platform

“We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation. We understand the terrible consequences of gun violence; it serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and our time here is limited and precious. We believe in an honest, open national conversation about firearms. We can focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work together to enact commonsense improvements–like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole–so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.”

Source: 2012 Democratic Party Platform , Sep 4, 2012

Reauthorize assault weapons ban, close gun show loophole

“We will protect Americans Second Amendment right to own firearms, and we will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists by fighting gun crime, reauthorizing the assault weapons ban, and closing the gun show loophole, as President Bush proposed and failed to do.”

Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p.18 , Jul 10, 2004

Strengthen gun control to reduce violence

“Democrats passed the Brady Law and the Assault Weapons Ban. We increased federal, state, and local gun crime prosecution by 22 percent since 1992. Now gun crime is down by 35 percent. Now we must do even more. We need mandatory child safety locks. We should require a photo license I.D., a background check, and a gun safety test to buy a new handgun. We support more federal gun prosecutors and giving states and communities another 10,000 prosecutors to fight gun crime.”

Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

SOURCE: https://www.ammoland.com/2016/07/democrats-choose-gun-control-for-2016-party-platform/#axzz5wVB9S79j


It is shortsighted or too idealistic to believe that universal background checks will decrease mass shootings in the United States. One of the biggest problems is the availability of the guns and rifles preferred by the mass shooter: assault weapons. It is clear from review of the party platforms only the Democratic Party wants to ban assault weapons, including AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles, that have been used to perpetrate the most lethal mass shootings in U.S. history, especially over the last 4 years.

Based on the review of the biggest mass shootings in the United States, assault style weapons are the preferred weapons of choice to murder as many innocent men, women and children as possible within seconds using high capacity magazines. Assault weapons do not belong in the hands of private citizens but belong on a battlefield in the hands of the military and perhaps law enforcement.

After so many mass killings, it is difficult to refute that something needs to be done about semi-automatic and automatic guns such as the AR-15, assault style weapons or the types used in all the mass shootings and that are the weapons of choice for mass murderers.

It’s clear the NRA controlled congress, especially the Republican Senate, does not want, nor is it willing to take, any action on gun control. Republican US Senate Majority Leader “Massacre” Mitch Mc Connell of Kentucky now says he will allow bi-partisan legislation enacted in the US House of Representatives advance to the Senate floor for a vote but only after the congressional break. It is doubtful it will pass the NRA Republican control United State Senate.

The United States Congress should enact a comprehensive gun control legislation including:

1. A ban the manufacture and sale of all assault weapons to the general public and regulate existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and initiate a federal gun buyback program.

2. Implement universal background checks on the sale of all guns.

3. Close the “Charleston loophole” or “delayed denial” where federally licensed dealers can sell guns if three business days pass without FBI clearance.

4. Call for the update and enhancement of the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NCIS).

5. Institute mandatory extended waiting periods for all gun purchases.

6. Implement mandatory handgun licensing, permitting, training, and registration requirements.

7. Impose limits on high capacity magazines.

8. Prohibit firearm sale or transfer to and receipt or possession by an individual who has: (1) been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor hate crime, or (2) received from any court an enhanced hate crime misdemeanor sentence.

9. Institute mandatory child access prevention safe storage requirements and prohibit the sales of handguns with “hair triggers”.

10. Provide more resources and treatment for people with mental illness.

11. Enhance accountability of federally licensed firearms dealers.

12. Implement micro stamped code on each bullet that links it to a specific gun.

13. Produce ‘x-mart guns’ with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or biometric recognition (fingerprint) capability.

14. Limit gun purchases to 3 or 4 per year to reduce supply and demand, trafficking and straw purchases.

15. Prohibit open carry of firearms.

16. Digitize Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire (ATF) gun records.

17. Require licensing for ammunition dealer.


There are many components to America’s mass shooting epidemic. We need more mental health treatment facilities, more parental involvement, better educational systems, early childhood intervention to prevent child abuse and to identify and get help and counseling to emotionally and violent children and more to secure our schools.

The enactment of universal background checks is a baby step in a very long journey to end mass shootings with assault weapon. What is needed at a minimum on federal level are prohibitions and the ban of the manufacture, sale and distribution to the general public of semi-automatic firearms, AR-15 style rifles, assault weapons, semi-automatic pistols, semi-automatic shotguns and weapons that ensure the most murders in the shortest amount of time.

Until the United States congress does something to enact reasonable and responsible gun control measures and ban assault weapons, we can expect more mass shootings at soft targets such as schools, movie theaters, malls, department stores and major public events like concerts and state fairs. The mass shootings will again be followed by the predictable cycle of news coverage, more outrage, more nighttime candle vigils, more funerals, more condolences, more rhetoric demanding action. In the end, nothing will be done, congress will not take action and more mass shootings will occur, there will no reasonable gun control legislation and assault weapons will be available to whoever wants one.

One thing is for certain: Given the divide between Republicans and Democrats on gun control and reflected in their platforms and by their candidates for President, there will be no gun control measures enacted and signed into law until a Democrat is elected President in 2020. Until the Democrats take control of both the House of Representatives and control of the United States Senate with a 61 or more Senate majority, meaningful gun control legislation and the ban on assault weapons is “dead on arrival” in the Republican controlled United States Senate.

This entry was posted in Opinions by . Bookmark the permalink.


Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.