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 TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation 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 CornynNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public MORE (R-Texas) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial 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 ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA 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 WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns 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 HeitkampSusan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same 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 SchumerSchumer urges declassification of letter from Pence aide No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day Collins walks impeachment tightrope 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 HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals MORE (Utah), are expected to introduce legislation that would increase funding for Justice Department school violence prevention grants.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter Lawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones 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 GrangerConservative Club for Growth backs Texas House Republican's primary challenger ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate MORE (R-Texas) is offering legislation that would encourage local school districts to buy and install metal detectors.

And Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsDemocratic socialist group: Voters lost faith in Democratic Party after 2016 On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday Pelosi announces support for new Trump NAFTA deal 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 FeinsteinCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight 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 GillibrandSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris weighing Biden endorsement: report California Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Steyer spokesperson: 'I don't think necessarily that Tom has bought anything' MORE (Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' MORE (N.J.), as well as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll Warren calls for Brazil to drop charges against Glenn Greenwald 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 Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Flake: Republicans don't speak out against Trump 'because they want to keep their jobs' GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials 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 Massie2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week NY Times's Haberman: Trump 'surprised' Iranian strike wasn't 'more of a unifying event' 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 HeinrichDemocratic senator blasts 'draconian' press restrictions during impeachment trial Health care, spending bills fuel busy year for K Street Schumer introduces bill requiring GDP measure inequality MORE (N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSenate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations DSCC endorses combat veteran MJ Hegar in Texas race to unseat Cornyn Senate confirms Trump's 50th circuit judge, despite 'not qualified' rating MORE (Nev.) introduced the bill. Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump to sign USMCA next Wednesday Trump administration releases rule to restrict 'birth tourism' On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk | Union membership falls to record low | Manufacturers want Trump tax provision made permanent | Warren presses banks on climate plans 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 GrahamDemocrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Video becomes vital part of Democrats' case against Trump Nadler plays 1999 clip of Graham defining high crimes: 'It doesn't even have to be a crime' 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 CollinsSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation MORE (Maine) and Democratic Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall MORE (Vt.) introduced legislation last year that would make such gun purchases a stand-alone criminal offense.