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Gun debate: Here are the proposals that Congress is considering

Gun debate: Here are the proposals that Congress is considering
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers are offering a range of measures to respond to the Florida high school shooting last month that left 17 people dead.

Despite the flurry sparked by President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE’s call for new legislation, there’s no sign of a bill that can pass both chambers.

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But that hasn’t stopped members from outlining a number of options.

Here's a look at the competing proposals.

Fix NICS Act

This bill is aimed at bolstering records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and was introduced after a shooting last year in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

It has gained new momentum, but also new opposition, since the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The bill enforces existing laws by ensuring that authorities report criminal records to the system and penalizing agencies that don't.

Despite its bipartisan origins — it was introduced by Sens. John CornynJohn CornynTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Cornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel MORE (R-Texas) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyUS, Iran signal possible breakthroughs in nuke talks Democrats face big headaches on Biden's T spending plan Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Conn.) — Democrats have rejected the bill as too narrow.

Manchin-Toomey

The 2013 background check bill got a burst of new life after President Trump suggested it be used as the base for Congress’s new gun push.

The legislation spearheaded by Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) in the weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting failed to overcome a filibuster, mostly by Republicans.

Five Democrats also opposed it, but only one, Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Bill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-N.D.), remains in the Senate. She is up for reelection this fall.

The legislation would have expanded background checks for internet and gun show sales, while also including exemptions for friends and family.

Toomey told The Associated Press that he spoke on the phone with Trump, who was supportive of using Manchin-Toomey as the “core legislative vehicle.”

But the bill would likely face an uphill battle.

Twelve Democrats who supported the legislation are no longer in the Senate and half of them were replaced by Republicans.

Background checks:

Senate Democrats are demanding more extensive background checks on gun purchases.

Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture How to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs MORE (D-N.Y.), outlining his caucus’s three-part plan, said Trump should “at a minimum” support closing “loopholes” by requiring background checks for all firearms sold at gun shows or over the internet.

“I think the president knows he could show real leadership by bucking the [National Rifle Association], providing cover for his Republicans and getting something actually done,” he told reporters.

Schumer didn’t say if Democrats would offer Manchin-Toomey as their background check legislation or file a separate piece of legislation.

A Quinnipiac University poll released late last month found that 97 percent of Americans — including 97 percent of gun owners and 97 percent of Republicans — support requiring a background check on every gun sale.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday that the president is “not necessarily” pushing for “universal” background checks.  

“Certainly improving the background check system. He wants to see what that legislation, the final piece of it looks like,” she told reporters.

School safety

Trump has homed in on school safety following the shooting, saying campuses should be “hardened.”

“These include allowing people with a certified training, very talented people, to carry firearms,” Trump said during this week’s White House meeting with lawmakers.

While getting Congress to pass funding for his idea appears unlikely, lawmakers are offering, or preparing to offer, their own school safety legislation.

Republican senators, led by Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Press: Forget bipartisanship — it's dead! MORE (Utah), are expected to introduce legislation that would increase funding for Justice Department school violence prevention grants.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Fla.), arguing federal law “appears to discourage school systems from reporting dangerous students to law enforcement,” said he would introduce legislation to try to cut down on the delay.

In the House, Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerRepublican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax Biden to hold second meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure MORE (R-Texas) is offering legislation that would encourage local school districts to buy and install metal detectors.

And Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsTexas Republicans condemn state Democrats for response to official calling Scott an 'Oreo' Watchdog: Capitol Police need 'culture change' Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE (R-Texas) introduced legislation that would allow the Department of Education to create a grant for school districts to be able to conduct independent security assessments.

Assault weapons ban

House and Senate Democrats are pushing for a ban on assault weapons following the Florida shooting — a move supported by the party’s base but unlikely to pass Congress.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Senate Democrats call on Biden to restore oversight of semiautomatic and sniper rifle exports MORE (D-Calif.) raised the issue during the White House meeting and was openly giddy when Trump appeared open to including it in a broad bill.

A recent assault weapons ban bill won over 27 Senate Democrats, including Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAustin tight lipped on whether to take sexual assault cases out of commanders' hands Gillibrand touts legislation to lower drug costs: This idea 'is deeply bipartisan' A bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in the armed forces MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris says Mexico, US can work together to improve quality of life in Northern Triangle Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says 'it is time to pass the baton on to someone else' Harris's uncle discusses COVID-19 surge in India: 'The conditions are pretty bad' MORE (Calif.), Cory BookerCory BookerBush testifies before Congress about racist treatment Black birthing people face during childbirth, pregnancy Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Never underestimate Joe Biden MORE (N.J.), as well as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders Sanders on Cheney drama: GOP is an 'anti-democratic cult' MORE (I-Vt.) — all viewed as potential 2020 contenders.

Most of the House Democratic Caucus is backing similar legislation.

Minimum age  

Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  Cindy McCain: Arizona election audit is 'ludicrous' The Republicans' deep dive into nativism MORE (R-Ariz.) and Feinstein introduced legislation less than an hour after the White House meeting that would raise the minimum age for buying an assault rifle from 18 to 21.

The suspect in the Florida shooting, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is said to have used an AR-15, which gun control proponents say is a form of an assault weapon. Many gun rights supporters disagree with that view.

Trump encouraged lawmakers to strongly consider the issue, though Sanders acknowledged that Trump “knows there's not a lot of broad support for that.”

GOP Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieOvernight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program MORE (Ky.) has introduced a bill that would lower the minimum age for buying a handgun from 21 to 18.

Bump stocks

Lawmakers are pushing forward with formal legislation to ban bump stocks even as Trump said he would “quickly” sign an executive order making the gun attachment illegal.

The device allows a semi-automatic weapon to function similarly to an automatic weapon, with multiple rounds fired with the single pull of a trigger.

Flake and Democratic Sens. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico MORE (N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoOn The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction Hillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO Americans for Prosperity launches campaign targeting six Democrats to oppose ending filibuster MORE (Nev.) introduced the bill. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley asks Blinken to provide potential conflicts involving John Kerry Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform MORE (R-Iowa) separately said he is open to passing legislation if the Trump administration’s current effort to ban them through regulation fails.

A bump stock wasn’t used in the Florida shooting. But they came onto the nation’s radar after they were reportedly used during a shooting at a concert in Las Vegas where 56 people were killed.

“Red flags”

Both Rubio and Schumer have pointed to allowing law enforcement or close family members to use a court order to temporarily block an individual deemed dangerous from being able to buy or posses a gun as a priority.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump' House to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-S.C.) also said they are working on “red flag” legislation. The two senators are expected to introduce their bill next week.

“Our government encourages our citizens that if you see something, say something. We also need ‘do something,’ ” Graham said in a statement.  

Straw purchases

Cracking down on straw purchases, when an individual who can pass a background check buys a gun for someone who can’t, appears to have support from across the Senate’s political spectrum.

Rubio said he is working on legislation that would provide more resources for prosecutors to go after the individuals who buy the gun. And Sanders name-dropped the issue during his floor speech outlining how Congress should respond to the Florida shooting.

Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap On The Money: Democratic scramble complicates Biden's human infrastructure plan | Progressives push on student debt relief No designated survivor chosen for Biden's joint address to Congress MORE (Vt.) introduced legislation last year that would make such gun purchases a stand-alone criminal offense.