Ten gun bills on Congress’s first day
Members of the 113th Congress introduced 10 bills on Thursday relating to gun violence, most of which came from Democrats seeking new restrictions on gun ownership.
The flurry of legislative proposals show that members are likely to push the issue in the wake of the December shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children dead.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was shot to death in 1993, introduced four of the bills. The congresswoman has vowed to seek changes in federal law in response to the school shooting.
H.R. 137 and 138 from McCarthy would require people prohibited from buying firearms to be listed in a national database, and would prohibit the transfer or possession of large capacity ammunition clips.McCarthy’s H.R. 141 would require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions at gun shows, which would close the so-called gun-show loophole. Her H.R. 142 would require face-to-face purchases of ammunition, the licensing of ammunition dealers, and the reporting of bulk ammo purchases.
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Rush Holt (D-N.J.) each proposed their own bills tightening firearms licensing requirements — H.R. 34 and H.R. 117, respectively. And Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) proposed H.R. 65, which would raise the eligibility age to carry a handgun from 18 to 21.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) reintroduced his bill, H.R. 21, to require background checks for all gun sales, and to require gun owners to report when their guns have been stolen. Moran argued in December that while the National Rifle Association objects to these changes, members of the powerful group support them.
“The NRA as an organization is out of step with its membership on many commonsense gun safety measures,” he said. “Polling shows nearly two-thirds of NRA members support the five simple ways to improve gun safety included in this bill.”
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Two freshman Republicans introduced contrary bills that would end federal law requiring that areas around schools be designated as “gun free zones.” These bills, H.R. 35 from Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) and H.R. 133 from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), are a response to findings that violence in and around schools has increased since the gun free zone law took effect in 1990.
“By disarming qualified citizens and officials in schools we have created a dangerous situation for our children,” Stockman said. “In the 22 years before enactment of ‘gun free school zones’ there were two mass school shootings.
“In the 22 years since enactment of ‘gun free schools’ there have been 10 mass school shootings,” he added. “Not only has the bill utterly failed to protect our children it appears to have placed them in danger.”
Companion bills could be introduced on the Senate side, but Senate leaders have reserved January 22 as the first day on which new Senate legislation can be proposed.