Here Are The Gun Control Measures Congressional Democrats Will Consider After Returning From Recess Early

The House Judiciary Committee announced on Friday that its members will return from their August recess a few days early, on September 4, to consider a slew of new gun violence prevention measures that Democrats hope to pass once the full chamber returns.

But all of the proposals that the Democratic-led committee plans to debate—background checks, "red flag" laws and a ban on high-capacity magazines—will need bipartisan support to even be considered, much less passed, by the GOP-controlled Senate.

In addition to examining several potential policies, the committee said it will hold a hearing September 25 to "address the dangers posed by assault weapons."

"There is more that we can and must do to address the gun violence epidemic. We will not sit idly by," Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said in a statement. "I call on my Senate colleagues to join us in this effort by swiftly passing gun safety bills the House has already passed and also by acting on the additional bills we will be considering."

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) (C) and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) talk before a hearing on gun violence legislation. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

President Trump has pushed for "common sense background checks" and red flag laws while claiming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also supports expanding background checks. However, McConnell has kept his statements on the topic vague, emphasizing the Senate will address gun control once it returns from recess.

The House Judiciary Committee will debate the following pieces of legislation starting September 4:

  • H.R. 1186, the Keep Americans Safe Act: Introduced in March by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who sits on Judiciary, this bill would prohibit the import, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of high-capacity magazines. Those who already possess this style of ammunition magazine would be grandfathered in, and law enforcement officials—active or retired—and those using them to secure nuclear materials would still have access to them.
    Under H.R. 1186, a magazine would not be able to exceed 10 rounds of ammunition. It's currently co-sponsored by 121 Democrats and zero Republicans.
  • H.R. 1236, the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019: Introduced Rep. Salud Carbajal of California (D-CA) on the anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, H.R. 1236 is commonly known as a "red flag" law, which provides grants to states that adopt laws allowing local law enforcement to remove firearms from the possession of individuals believed to be an imminent threat to themselves or others.

Carbajal currently has 159 co-sponsors—157 Democrats and two Republicans, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Christopher Smith of New Jersey. Smith added his name last week after two deadly mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.

A similar bill, H.R. 3076, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019, will also be considered. Introduced by freshman Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA), it would allow officials at the federal level to temporarily confiscate firearms.

These types of gun reform proposals have, so far, received the most support from Republicans and have the best chance of advancing in the Senate. After a gunman killed nine people earlier this month in Dayton, Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine instituted a new "red flag" measure in the state.

McConnell has said there is a bipartisan group of senators working to craft gun control legislation that could include a similar provision.

  • H.R. 2708, the Disarm Hate Act: Introduced in May by Representative David Cicilline of (D-RI), also a member of Judiciary, this legislation would add individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes to the list of those barred from owning firearms. This would be enforced through background checks.
    The bill's 129 co-sponsors are all Democrats.

Back in February, the House passed—mostly along partisan lines—universal background check legislation that Democrats continue to demand McConnell immediately address by recalling the Senate from recess for a vote. It would expand background check requirements to include all commercial and most private transactions and would close internet and gun show loopholes, among other things.

  • H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act: This legislation, introduced by Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) in February, passed the House that same month with most Democrats voting for it and all but three Republicans voting against. Fitzpatrick, Smith and Peter King (R-NY) were the lone Republicans to support the bill.

If it were to become law, H.R. 1112 would patch the loophole that allowed white supremacist Dylann Roof to buy a Glock 41.45-caliber handgun he used to kill nine people at a predominately black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Current laws allow the purchase of a gun if an individual isn't flagged by a federal background check within three business days. This proposal would extend that window to 10 business days.

An error during the FBI background check process allowed Roof to purchase a firearm, even though a previous drug conviction should have made him ineligible.

"These should not be partisan issues, and it is my hope we can move forward on these matters with support on both sides of the aisle, including the president," Nadler said. "For far too long, politicians in Washington have only offered thoughts and prayers in the wake of gun violence tragedies. Thoughts and prayers have never been enough. To keep our communities safe, we must act."

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The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee is returning early from recess to discuss a slate of gun-reform measures. Getty Images