Last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, are putting a renewed focus on what action, if any, Congress will take to curb gun violence.
Though lawmakers are dispersed across the country for the August recess, members are engaged in discussions about how to respond. Meanwhile, President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE has publicly signaled he is interested in addressing everything from background checks and “red flag” laws to mental health and violence in video games.
Lawmakers have already introduced more than 100 bills that mention guns, giving them plenty of early options as they weigh next steps.
Here are some that are getting the most attention.
Universal background checks
Democrats are homing their efforts on trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP The Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight Treasury to use extraordinary measures despite debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Ky.) into giving the House-passed universal background check bill a floor vote.
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden to take part in CNN town hall in Baltimore Manchin on finishing agenda by Halloween: 'I don't know how that would happen' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Build Back Better items on chopping block MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.) used separate phone calls this week with Trump to urge him to support the House measure. In a joint statement they said the president “gave us his assurances” that he would review the legislation.
Democrats say they have public support on their side. A Quinnipiac University national poll released in late May found that 94 percent of respondents supported requiring background checks for all gun buyers.
But it’s all but guaranteed to fail if it comes up in the Senate. The legislation passed the House with backing from only eight Republicans. All of its 42 sponsors in the Senate are Democrats, meaning it’s unlikely to muster the 60 votes needed to advance.
The House also passed legislation that would lengthen the amount of time a business has to wait for a background check to clear before selling a firearm, from three days to 10 days. That measure received support from just three Republicans.
A narrower background check bill is being pushed by Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised Progressive coalition unveils ad to pressure Manchin on Biden spending plan MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.). Their measure would extend checks to all commercial sales, including those at gun shows and over the internet.
A spokesman for Manchin said the senator spoke with Trump twice this past week about the bipartisan bill, which the Senate rejected in 2013 when Democrats were in the majority. A spokesman for Toomey said the GOP senator had spoken with Trump three times since the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
Toomey “has talked with numerous senators on both sides of the aisle every day this week to try and forge a path forward on the Manchin-Toomey bill. Sen. Toomey’s conversations with his colleagues and the president have been helpful and he believes that there is momentum to pass a bipartisan bill,” the spokesman told The Hill.
McConnell name checked the proposal during a Kentucky radio interview, predicting that a discussion about background checks would be “front and center” in the Senate’s debate when lawmakers return to Washington next month. He didn’t say if he would support the measure after voting against it in 2013, or that it would receive a vote this time around.
Only two Republicans who backed the 2013 measure are still in the Senate. While 35 of the Senate’s 47 Democrats voted for the bill in 2013, most of the caucus has now signed on to the broader universal background check legislation.
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyExpats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines Growing number of Democrats endorse abolishing debt limit altogether Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase MORE (D-Conn.) said there are “big, important differences” between the two bills, adding that “Manchin-Toomey was a product of its political moment.”
‘Red flag’ laws
“Red flag” laws are back on the nation’s radar after Congress discussed but failed to come up with a deal after last year’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
The laws, designed to help police identify potentially dangerous individuals, have been implemented in 17 states. Trump even touted the idea during Monday’s speech from the White House, putting momentum behind the talk of passing legislation.
There are two “red flag” bills in the Senate — one from Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (R-Fla.) and another from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Jane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council on Mental Wellbeing — Merck asks FDA to authorize five-day COVID-19 treatment MORE (D-Calif.). Both would incentivize states to enact red flag laws and let family members petition the courts to temporarily prevent someone from buying or owning a gun.
Feinstein and Rubio have each requested Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products MORE (R-S.C.) hold a vote on their bills, but Graham is working on his own proposal with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
Democrats have warned that red flag legislation is “not enough” after the most recent mass shootings. Some Republicans have also raised concerns that the laws could violate individual rights.
“I have a lot of concerns about the due process component of that,and I don’t want to punish law-abiding citizens,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE (Wyo.), the No. 3 GOP senator, said about the laws.
Assault weapons ban
Democrats in both chambers have introduced legislation to ban assault weapons, but neither House nor Senate leadership has called a vote on the legislation.
Congress voted in 1994 to ban assault weapons, but that law expired in 2004 amid unified GOP control of government. Since then Democrats have repeatedly tried to reinstate the ban but have run into political hurdles each time.
McConnell said assault weapons would likely be part of the upcoming Senate debate, but warned lawmakers that they can’t “fail to pass something." Trump predicted there’s “no political appetite” for an assault weapons ban.
Lawmakers, and outside groups, are ramping up talk about whether legislation is needed to help combat domestic terrorism.
The FBI Agents Association, which represents more than 14,000 active and former bureau agents, called on Congress this past week to make domestic terrorism a federal crime.
Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups Lawmakers question whether Amazon misled Congress Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products MORE (D-R.I.) has introduced a bill to block gun sales to individuals convicted of hate crimes. His measure is one of a handful that House Democrats are mulling as they consider their next steps.
Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin on finishing agenda by Halloween: 'I don't know how that would happen' Senate Democrats ask for details on threats against election workers Fill the Eastern District of Virginia MORE of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, is calling for passage of his bill that would authorize domestic terrorism offices for the FBI, Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security and require them to set up an task force to combat white supremacist and neo-Nazis.
“We must do what we can to stop these groups of violent white supremacists — they’re growing in size, intensity, and danger. … It’s time for the Trump Administration to take this threat seriously,” Durbin tweeted.