GOP lawmakers urge GOP to avoid ‘unnecessary’ gun bill
After months of trying to pass a bill to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, Republicans in the House and Senate are trying to get a quick vote on a gun bill that would require background checks for all firearm purchases.
The House bill passed by a vote of 216-205 on Thursday night.
The Senate passed the bill on Friday by a margin of 56-42.
The measure will now head to the Senate, where Democrats have been lobbying for gun control legislation for months.
It would require universal background checks and a national database to track all firearm sales and transfers.
The National Rifle Association praised the bill, but warned against using the bill as a vehicle to advance other gun control measures.
“The gun lobby, led by the NRA, has used this vote to advance the failed Gun Control Act, which failed to close the gun show loophole and did nothing to address the growing epidemic of gun violence,” said Dan Gross, NRA senior vice president of government affairs.
The NRA’s comments came after the Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would ban the sale of certain semi-automatic weapons, including rifles, to individuals on the terror watch list.
Democrats have repeatedly pressed Republicans to move ahead with a gun measure on gun control, arguing that it will make it harder for the U.S. to fight the pandemic.
The gun bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would require a background check on all gun sales and would allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to keep track of any firearm sale that goes through the background check system.
It also would ban high-powered assault weapons, which are used by some domestic abusers and gang members, and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
“This is about preventing mass shootings, and it’s about keeping us safe from terrorists,” Blumenthal said on Thursday.
The vote comes just a week after two mass shootings in Connecticut and Oregon, where at least 12 people were killed and 21 wounded.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill banning assault weapons into law Thursday, and the Oregon governor signed a similar bill Thursday evening.
The Connecticut bill was prompted by a gunman who used an AR-15-type rifle to shoot up a movie theater in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, and a gunman in Portland, Oregon, who opened fire on a Portland movie theater and a second movie theater a day later.
The Washington Post reported that Connecticut passed a law that allowed the sale, possession and transfer of high- capacity magazines in November, and Oregon passed a similar law earlier this month.
“If you have the capacity to hold more ammunition, it would make it much harder for someone to kill you and you have to go through a background checks, which is a much more complicated process,” Blumenthal told reporters on Thursday after the Connecticut bill passed.
Blumenthal said he was pleased with the Connecticut law and the bill passed, but added that it still did not go far enough to stop mass shootings.
“I think it is a good first step, but we need to take it further,” he said.
“We need to have universal background check, which has been a common sense step for decades, but what we do not have is a comprehensive background check.”
Democrats are pushing for a broader bill that includes a ban on assault weapons.
“A national database that would track all gun purchases would help prevent gun violence, and we need a universal background-check system that is easy for everyone to understand,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D, Calif.) said in a statement.
Blumenthal told Fox News that a background-checks system is not enough.
“Forcing the private sale of guns through the system, however, is not a good way to prevent a terrorist attack,” he added.
“You have to have a universal system that everybody understands.
The background check does not solve the problem.
It is simply a way of enforcing the existing law.”
Republicans argue that a database would not work because it would require the government to collect information on every firearm sale.
“Our national database, which was created to track the sale and transfer records of criminals and terrorists, would require millions of records from gun dealers and sellers in order to track every sale, every sale record, every gun sale, which would require massive amounts of government records,” Blumenthal explained.
“It would take us forever to get to a national system.”
The gun lobby also argued that a national gun registry would not stop gun violence.
“In fact, it could create more problems, as a new database would be necessary to track firearms used in crimes, as well as records of sales and transfer,” Gross said.
Blumenthal, however said the NRA would oppose the national gun database.
“Every gun sold in America would be traceable and linked to a criminal background check,” Blumenthal argued.
“And, importantly, the NRA is a big advocate for the Second Amendment, and has always advocated for an individual right to keep and bear arms.”
The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment