September 22 is not March Fourth. But that’s the day that the March Fourth group will be holding another march in Washington, DC. March Fourth describes itself as a nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy group “with a singular mission: to federally ban assault weapons.” So the September 22 March Fourth march will be a way to urge the U.S. Senate to pass a bill that was authored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) and got through the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 1808 on July 29. This bill bears the name “Assault Weapons Ban of 2022,” and would make it “unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.” The emphasis here is on the word “would” because the bill would need to get at least 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to pass.
That’s why March Fourth has put forth the following tweet and video in advance of the march:
Now, it seems like the people in the video may have been using just a little bit of sarcasm in what they were saying, perhaps? For example, there were the people saying things like “I want to be fearful every time I’m in an open area in a public place,” and, “I want to think about how completely vulnerable I am while I am closing my eyes to pray at my place of worship,” as well as, “I enjoy practicing semi-annual lockdown drills with six year olds who don’t fully understand what’s happening.” Then there was the guy who stated in a Michael Douglas-like voice, “I like going to the movies and making a mental note of every exit in the theater to plan my escape,” and the woman with the guitar dead-panning, “I hope that our set is interrupted by loud percussive sounds that cause the audience to scream in horror and run for their lives.” And what about the guy who declared, “I want to think of this dumpster as hiding place for my kid,” because what could be more delightful than a kid-in-a-dumpster?
Next, each of folks said that the freedom to experience each of those “wonderful” things were reasons not to march on September 22. Speaking of freedom, a man standing in front of an American flag in the video emphasized, “I want to celebrate our nation’s freedom by worrying that I’ll end up bleeding out on the pavement while being trampled by terrified parade goers.” The video then proceeded to display a collage of people chiming in with, “I like that anyone can easily access weapons of destruction, weapons of war, designed to kill the greatest number of people in the least amount of time.” The whole thing concluded with the words, “On September 22, we’re marching at the U.S. Capitol to ban assault weapons,” followed by the question “why” and the answer, “There’s no good reason not to.”
Yeah, it would kind of nice if all of the things mentioned in the video didn’t actually happen recently. But hiding in dumpsters, bleeding on pavements, having to plan escapes, conducting lockdown drills, and screaming in horror have become all to common in the U.S. That’s led to repeated calls to do more than nothing about preventing mass shootings, which, in turn, prompted Cicilline to draft H.R. 1808.
H.R. 1808 is not a completely new idea. Quite the contrary. From 1994 to 2004, our country actually had an assault weapons ban for ten years after being signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. The law was allowed to lapse in 2004 and was never re-enacted, despite studies showing that mass shooting deaths had decreased during the ban. One such study was published in the American Journal of Surgery in 2022 while another was published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery in 2019. So an assault weapons ban could be kind of a let’s-try-something-that-has-worked-before-unless-someone-can-come-up-with-something-better situation. Oh and if you are wondering why there haven’t been more studies on how to prevent gun violence, the U.S. Congress had limited funding for gun violence research for over two decades, as I covered for Forbes in 2019.
Scientific evidence may support the re-enactment of such a ban but you know how much various political leaders listen to real science these days. The House vote H.R. 1808 was a bit of a political party in the U.S.A. situation. It fell largely along party lines with 217 mostly Democrats in favor and 213 mostly Republicans opposed. Only two Republicans and five Democrats crossed party lines in the vote. The bill now is in the hands of the U.S. Senate where it’s most likely going to be doomed should a similar party divide be maintained. Again the bill would need at least 60 votes to pass the Senate, which would mean at least 10 Republicans would have to vote for the bill. So the bill is certainly not out of the woulds yet.
So March Fourth may be facing an uphill march. Kitty Brandtner founded March Fourth two days following the after the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. That shooting left seven people dead and 48 others wounded. The shooter had used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle with three 30-round magazines to fire 83 shots. Nine days after the shooting March Fourth held a march in Washington, DC, that included survivors from the Highland Park mass shooting as well as other mass shootings such as the one in Uvalde, Texas. Unfortunately, these days it’s not difficult to find survivors and family members of victims of mass shootings in the U.S. Since then, members of March Fourth have been meeting with members of Congress and the White House to advocate for a ban on assault weapons.
America clearly has a gun violence problem, with already over 31,000 gun violence deaths in 2022 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Healthcare researchers and professionals have been clamoring for more to be done about this continued bloodshed, as I reported for Forbes on August 2. Again scientific studies have shown drops in mass shootings during the previous ten-year assault weapon ban while those opposed to such a ban have not really provided much scientific counter-evidence. One thing’s for sure the U.S. can’t really go forth with the current situation and expect gun violence to simply march away.