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 John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE’s call for new legislation, there’s no sign of a bill that can pass both chambers.

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

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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 CornynGOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas Castro, Warren, Harris to speak at Texas Democratic virtual convention Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight MORE (R-Texas) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day Congress eyes changes to small business pandemic aid Top Democrat to introduce bill to limit Trump's ability to fire IGs MORE (D-Conn.) — Democrats have rejected the bill as too narrow.

Manchin-Toomey

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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 ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy NSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general 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 Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerVA hospitals mostly drop hydroxychloroquine as coronavirus treatment Democrats call on FTC to investigate allegations of TikTok child privacy violations Lawmakers introduce bill to invest 0 billion in science, tech research 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 Bottom line Bottom line MORE (Utah), are expected to introduce legislation that would increase funding for Justice Department school violence prevention grants.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump administration designates B of PPP funds for community lenders The Memo: Trump's Scarborough tweets unsettle his allies House passes bill that would sanction Chinese officials over Xinjiang camps 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.

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In the House, Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerLawmakers call on VA to remove swastikas from headstones in veterans cemeteries The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - A huge night for Joe Biden Kay Granger fends off Republican primary challenger in Texas MORE (R-Texas) is offering legislation that would encourage local school districts to buy and install metal detectors.

And Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsLawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank Democrats 'frustrated' by administration's coronavirus response after closed-door briefing Republicans sense momentum after impeachment win 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 FeinsteinFrustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter Justice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein 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 GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senators ask DeVos to adjust FAFSA form due to the coronavirus pandemic Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff MORE (N.J.), as well as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities MORE (I-Vt.) — all viewed as potential 2020 contenders.

Most of the House Democratic Caucus is backing similar legislation.

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Minimum age  

Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump 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 MassieHouse holds first-ever proxy votes during pandemic House GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House adopts historic rules changes to allow remote voting 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 HeinrichThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections Bottom line MORE (N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoCortez Masto says she's not interested in being Biden VP The Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice Demings says she's on Biden's VP short list MORE (Nev.) introduced the bill. Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFormer Romney strategist joins anti-Trump Lincoln Project Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  Rosenstein to testify as part of Graham's Russia investigation probe 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 GrahamSenate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe Schumer: GOP should 'stop sitting on their hands' on coronavirus bill 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 CollinsOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  MORE (Vt.) introduced legislation last year that would make such gun purchases a stand-alone criminal offense.