US Gun Laws: Why Congress Won’t Act On The Legislation Anytime Soon

While proposals to overhaul gun laws — such a ban on assault-style weapons or high-capacity magazines — face strong odds at the federal level, there are some areas of bipartisan agreement. Whether that will be enough to break the deadlock in Congress remains to be seen.

Here’s what to know about what’s being considered in Congress and where it stands.

A House-passed bill, HR 1446, backed by Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, would end what’s known as the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows some gun sales to licensed fire to pass before a required background check is completed.

Specifically, the legislation would increase the time, from three business days to a minimum of 10 business days, that a federal firearms license holder must wait to receive a completed background check before transferring a firearm. to an unlicensed person.

Using this loophole, a white shooter was able to legally buy a gun to kill nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Senate Democrats took steps Tuesday night to put the bill, called the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, on the legislative calendar so it can pass.

It’s unclear when the Senate will vote on the measure, but it needs 60 votes in the chamber to overcome a filibuster, and clearly the legislation doesn’t have that support (at least not yet) — nor the full Democratic support of completely gutting Senate rule.

It’s unclear when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will try to force a procedural vote to break up a filibuster. Unless there is agreement from all 100 senators, the earliest he could implement procedural voting would be Saturday, according to a Democratic aide.

But the senators were due to leave for next week’s Memorial Day recess on Thursday afternoon. So they can wait until after the break to take that procedural vote, even if leaving town amid the Texas tragedy would be bad optics.

The aide said Schumer has yet to indicate when he might try to force the vote.

Yet Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who has pushed for gun safety legislation since the Sandy Hook shootings in his state nearly 10 years ago, told reporters Tuesday he should to have a vote even if it is doomed to failure.

“I think we need to hold every member of Congress accountable and vote so the public knows where each of us stands,” he said. Asked about the potential for a bipartisan agreement, he added: “I think there may well be areas of agreement. I am close to agreement with a number of my colleagues on a red flag status. .”

Even bills with bipartisan support cannot pass the Senate

Another bill, HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, would expand background checks for all gun sales or transfers in the country. Currently, background checks are not required for sales and transfers of weapons by private and unlicensed sellers.

The bill enjoys bipartisan support and passed the House last year in a vote of 227 to 203. Eight Republicans backed the bill and one Democrat voted against it.

Asked about this broader background check measure passed by the House on Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia referenced his own narrower effort in the Senate, saying, “If you can’t pass Manchin-Toomey , how are you going to get enough votes for anything?”

In 2013, Manchin and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed a compromise bill that would have required background checks of all commercial gun sales (including private sales at gun shows firearms and all internet sales), but would have allowed individuals to sell their firearms to family, friends and other acquaintances without background checks.

It failed under Senate filibuster rules, even though it had majority support. The vote was 54-46, with four Republicans joining most Democrats in support. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted “no” to ensure the measure could be raised again. Four other Democrats voted against the bill.
Manchin has continued to push versions of this legislation in recent years.
Republicans will say that background checks erode gun rights and ultimately take guns away. “You see Democrats and a lot of people in the media whose immediate solution is to try to curtail the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, told reporters on Tuesday.

The GOP will also argue that the bills would not stop all filming. It’s true. The specifics of each shoot are different. We still don’t know if any of those laws would have stopped Tuesday’s shooter, identified by Texas officials as Salvador Ramos.

For now, each state has variations on the rules. Most action on gun regulation is happening at the state level because Washington is frozen on the issue, like so many others.

The buccaneer, again

Democrats argue that this intransigence means Senate rules must change. There are plenty of topics Republicans will block Democrats on — limiting gun rights, expanding voting rights, tackling climate change, cutting tax cuts and more. Calls to end the obstruction will continue to grow.

Until all Democrats agree, the filibuster cannot be ended. Manchin supports gun control measures like the one he sponsored. But he is more determined to uphold Senate rules, which currently require 60 votes to push legislation forward.

“The filibuster is the only thing keeping us from going into total madness,” Manchin said Tuesday.

Other Democrats, like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, also support keeping the filibuster. It would take a simple majority to set a new precedent under Senate rules.

In particular, after Sinema tweeted that she was “horrified and heartbroken” by Tuesday’s shooting, Rep. Ruben Gallego, a likely primary challenger in 2024, slammed her for supporting the filibuster. “Please stop…unless you’re ready to break the filibuster to pass sensible gun control measures, you might as well say ‘thoughts and prayers,'” he said. -he adds. he tweeted.

But for now, either the Democrats must all agree to end the filibuster, or the Republicans must start supporting gun control measures in greater numbers. Until then, there will be no new federal gun laws.

Biden calls on lawmakers to have a backbone

President Joe Biden addressed the shooting in moving remarks from the White House on Tuesday night, saying, “I had hoped that when I became president, I wouldn’t have to do this anymore.”

Turning to the issue of gun control legislation, Biden implored lawmakers to “turn this pain into action” as he walked through some of the mass shootings since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, when he was vice president.

“Why do we keep letting this happen? In God’s name, where is our backbone to have the courage to face and stand up to lobbies?” he said.

Vice President Kamala Harris said in remarks earlier Tuesday that “enough is enough.”

“Our hearts keep breaking. … Every time a tragedy like this happens, our hearts break and our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of these families. And yet it continues,” a- she declared.

Yet familiar political postures emerged throughout the day.

GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina warned Democrats against a “reflexive reaction,” saying he’s confident that in the coming days, word will come that there were “signs” that the shooter 18 was “in danger”.

“It’s horrible. And you know what we have to avoid is the reflexive reaction that we have to say that all of this could be solved by not having weapons in anyone’s hands. We can always talk about reasonable measures, but we also have to talk about a better awareness situation,” Tillis told CNN.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Morgan Rimmer, Zachary B. Wolf, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

About Michael S. Montanez

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