House Democrats set to move on new gun control legislation

Erik Wasson

House Democrats announced Friday that the Judiciary Committee will cut short its six-week August recess to begin work on a flurry of gun control bills in response to deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

The massacres of 31 people in El Paso and Dayton reignited the debate on gun laws, though it’s unclear how far Senate Republicans are willing to go even with President Donald Trump saying he’s open to expanding background checks and so-called red flag laws to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people.

“There is more that we can and must do to address the gun violence epidemic,” committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “I call on my Senate colleagues to join us in this effort by swiftly passing gun safety bills the House has already passed and also by acting on the additional bills we will be considering.”

In this July 24, 2019, file photo, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., listens to the Mueller testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler, on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, called on the Senate to pass gun safety bills the House already passed as well as act on additional bills.

At the top of the committee agenda is a measure (H.R. 1186) to restrict the sale and importation of large capacity ammunition magazines such as those used in several mass shootings. Other bills are aimed at preventing gun ownership by those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes and against those who have a protection order issued against them.

The list doesn’t include an assault weapons ban. The committee will examine that issue at a separate Sept. 25 hearing. The now-expired assault weapons ban, passed in 1994, caused massive political fallout for Democrats, contributing to their loss of the House that year.

The House has already passed a bill to increase background checks and Senate Republicans and the Trump administration have shown some openness to considering some version of that bill.

At a rally Thursday night in New Hampshire, Trump focused on keeping weapons away from “deranged and dangerous people” while adding that, “We will always uphold the right to self defense and we will always uphold the Second Amendment.”