Despite only winning a majority in the House, Democrat lawmakers have announced that they will prioritize the passage of gun control measures when the next session of Congress kicks off in January.
House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to be the next Speaker of the House, said her chamber would look to pass a bill expanding background checks. The bill would require a federal background check on all gun sales, Politico reports.
The new Democratic majority is also starting a “gun violence prevention task force.”
While the proposal won’t get through the Republican-run Senate, much less become law, getting through the House will be a win for the gun-control movement, which has little to cheer about since President Donald Trump was sworn into office.
Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.) — head of a Democratic “gun violence prevention task force” that will have more than 140 members next year — says he’ll introduce the universal background checks bill early next year.
“It will be strong legislation to expand background checks, and I will have a very respectful show of [co-sponors],” Thompson said in an interview. “I think you will see it happen in the first 100 days.”
Pelosi similarly commented that her party will act “boldly and decisively” to much gun control measures.
“The new Democratic majority will act boldly and decisively to pass commonsense, life-saving background checks that are overwhelmingly supported by the American people,” Pelosi said, per Politico.
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Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who has co-authored background checks bills with Thompson in the past, has already told reporters that he will back this latest effort as well.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue, said he plans to move “very quickly” to get the background checks bill to the floor.
“It’s very important to us, it’s one of our top priorities. We told the American voters that we do mean to do this, and we do mean to do it,” Nadler told POLITICO, adding it would move through his panel in late February or early March. A floor vote in the House will come soon after.
Thompson’s legislation will require federal background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions.
The movement to support gun control measures like the universal background checks have bipartisan support, the Democrat members claim.
Regardless of the bill’s support in the House, it will face a Republican majority in the Senate and a Republican-controlled White House and so it is unlikely to become law.
According to the report, the effort in the House could be used as a messaging platform ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Democrats can showcase the agenda they want to push via the House to voters.
Republicans think the effort could lead to a disastrous outcome for gun rights proponents as a universal background check system is a short step away from advocating for a registry.
NRA and Republican Congressman Richard Hudson said: “Universal background checks has always been a red herring. It’s something that sounds very commonsense and probably polls very well, but there’s not a single commercial gun transaction in America that doesn’t have a background check.”
“People who are putting this forward, I think they have good intentions. They don’t want the wrong people to have guns,” Hudson continued. “But the wrong people are not going to report gun sales. So you will need a registry to know where every gun is.”
Politico reports the “sources close to the NRA” commented that the Democrat focus on gun regulations would “backfire” on them.
“[Democrats] will overreach like they always do,” said the NRA source, per the report. “They will push this too far, and it will backfire on them.”