Scalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms

Scalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms
© Greg Nash

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests Republicans disavow GOP candidate who said 'we should hang' Omar Nunes accuses Democrats of promoting 'conspiracy theories' MORE (R-La.) blasted gun control legislation from Democrats as he advocated instead focusing on shoring up the existing background check system.

Scalise, at a press conference held along with conservative group Tea Party Patriots on Wednesday, said Congress needs to focus on ensuring the current system is working efficiently before implementing new laws.

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His comments come as Senate Republicans have held up legislation on guns, including background checks, as they wait for President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE to say which measures he would support, if any.

The Democratically controlled House earlier this year passed a comprehensive universal background checks bill, while the House Judiciary Committee last week advanced legislation to prevent high-risk people from having guns and to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines

"Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] has said she's already laying down a marker with President Trump. She's saying it's not enough to go anywhere short of the bill she moved out of the house," Scalise said.

But he noted that "it's real important that we fight to protect the Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens."

Administration officials on Wednesday floated a proposal to GOP lawmakers that includes language that would require background checks on commercial gun sales to be conducted by a federally licensed firearms dealer or a licensed transfer agent.

It would also require additional documentation for gun purchases.  

Scalise did not directly address the White House proposal. 

Some GOP lawmakers have already expressed reservations about the details of the White House plan.

"We shouldn't seek to expand something that's terribly broken. As I said in my earlier statements, the last time they published the statistics for the [National Instant Criminal Background Check System], it showed it was terribly broken," Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieThe Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware House passes anti-robocall bill MORE (R-Ky.) said at the press conference.  

"This background check system has denied millions of people who should have been eligible to purchase a gun their God-given right to exercise the right to exercise their right to self-defense," he said.

The current background check system imposes penalties on government agencies for not reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.