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House Judiciary Committee sets vote on gun control proposals

Would be first legislative action on gun control after a spate of mass shootings, including at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., arrives for a House Judiciary Committee hearing in May.
Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., arrives for a House Judiciary Committee hearing in May. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Judiciary Committee announced a rare recess week markup for Thursday, with Democrats intent on advancing a bill with a suite of gun control proposals that they have floated in recent years.

A panel vote on the bill would tee up potential action in the full House when it returns to session next week, a spokesman for the committee said.

The legislative action would be the first on gun control after a spate of mass shootings, including at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers, and an outcry for Congress to do more to stop them.

While the shootings have reignited passion to pass gun control legislation among Democrats, the proposals face an uncertain future in the 50-50 Senate where they would have to gain support from at least 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster.

The measure includes proposals that would raise the age limit to purchase some semi-automatic rifles to 21 years old, establish a federal ban on new high-capacity magazines and create a new federal firearms offense for gun trafficking and straw purchases. Another two proposals would address safe gun storage.

The bill would also codify several Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives gun regulations from recent years. One provision would codify regulations on so-called “bump stocks” and banning their further sale, which was adopted in the Trump administration following the mass shooting that claimed more than 50 lives in Las Vegas in 2017.

A second would codify ATF regulation of so-called “ghost guns” that are assembled from kits or 3-D printed. The regulation, finalized in April, subjects ghost guns to the same serial number and background check requirements as traditional firearms.

Pro-gun groups such as the American Firearms Association have already criticized the Democratic proposals, and called them the “most serious assault on our Second Amendment rights we’ve ever seen,” in a fundraising email to supporters Tuesday.

On Twitter, Republicans on the committee called the markup “all for show” and criticized the move from committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

A new congressional map has set up a primary between Nadler and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, two longtime members of Congress. Maloney on May 19 had announced that her panel would have a hearing on the gun violence crisis on June 8.

Other moves

Separately, Majority Leader Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., has announced the House will consider a bill from Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., that would establish federal “red flag” court procedure which would allow for seizure of guns under an emergency order in federal court. The Judiciary Committee approved the legislation last October.

A handful of Senate Republicans have said they were open to talks on some form of gun control legislation before the chamber recessed for the Memorial Day recess, including a bipartisan proposal to advance grants for local “red flag” laws.

President Joe Biden, who has had much of his legislative agenda stall in a closely divided Congress, told reporters Tuesday he would meet with members of Congress about gun control legislation. Also, on Monday, the president called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas “rational Republicans” who may be amenable to a deal.

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