Top Democrat: House will consider new gun control measures

Tuesday, August 13, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Susan Ferrechio
August 13, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee will meet to consider advancing new gun control legislation, including a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity gun clips, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.

“There are a lot of bills involved, and I’m sure they are going to look at all of those and see what opportunities we have,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters Monday as he left a news conference on gun violence held in the Capitol.

Congress is not in session in August, but Democrats staged the press conference to call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to take up the House-passed background check legislation.

The House passed the measure in February with the support of eight Republicans. It would expand background checks to all gun purchases, including gun shows and internet sales, and would prohibits gun sales from non-licensed dealers.

“We are here to urge Senator McConnell to bring that bill to the floor,” Hoyer said. “And to urge every senator to listen to those 95% of Americans who say everyone ought to be checked — no loopholes.”

Democrats are hoping to build momentum for increased gun control following a string of mass shootings in recent weeks that left more than 30 people dead.

Public polling shows strong support for universal background checks, but gun rights groups argue the legislation Democrats and some Republicans support would go far beyond gun shows and the internet and would criminalize family transactions and many gun loans and would make it harder for people to protect themselves.

McConnell has promised to make gun control a top issue when the Senate reconvenes in September, but he does not support specific legislation and has ignored the House background check bill.

Hoyer said McConnell needs to begin ignoring the NRA.

“It takes no courage to put on the Senate floor a bill that is supported by 90-plus percent of Americans,” Hoyer said. “What takes courage is to look special interest groups in the eye and say enough is enough.”

Hoyer and Democrats at the press conference admitted they were not interested in stopping at background checks, calling the measure merely first of many possible legislative responses to mass shootings.

Hoyer said the Judiciary Committee would also be examining red-flag legislation, which would empower local law enforcement to take guns away from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

“More needs to be done, but this is a start,” Hoyer said.

Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Maryland, who appeared alongside Hoyer, sponsored legislation to raise the age minimum to 21 for certain gun purchases.

He also supports banning certain assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

“There is no purpose,” Brown said, for the high-capacity clips.

Democrats invited victims of gun violence who also called on McConnell to take up the background check measure, among them Dr. Wendy Edmonds, whose sister, Sylvia Frasier, died in the Sept. 16, 2013 mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

“At what point are you outraged, Sen. McConnell?” Edmonds said.

McConnell told a Louisville, Kentucky, radio station last week he is eager to address gun violence, but the legislation must be bipartisan.

The House bill has so little GOP support, it’s unlikely to pass the Senate.

McConnell has called on three Senate committees to come up with bipartisan proposals the Senate can consider in September.

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