Five proposals Congress is eyeing after mass shootings

Five proposals Congress is eyeing after mass shootings

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 John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial 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.

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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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum No. 2 GOP leader eyes Wednesday of next week for possible votes on witnesses MORE (R-Ky.) into giving the House-passed universal background check bill a floor vote. 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSekulow indicates White House not interested in motion to dismiss impeachment articles Overnight Health Care: Trump restores funding for Texas program that bars Planned Parenthood | Trump to attend March for Life | PhRMA spent record on 2019 lobbying Key House committee chairman to meet with Mnuchin on infrastructure next week MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCollins walks impeachment tightrope 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits Biden says he would not engage in witness swap in impeachment trial 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.

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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.

 

Manchin-Toomey

A narrower background check bill is being pushed 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.). 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 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.) 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 RubioLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech MORE (R-Fla.) and another from 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.). 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 GrahamRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Senator-jurors who may not be impartial? Remove them for cause Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa 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 BarrassoWhat to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on 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.

 

Domestic terrorism

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 Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Smaller companies testify against Big Tech's 'monopoly power' Living in limbo may end for Liberians in the US 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on 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.