News and Commentary

House Democrats Plan ‘Aggressive’ Gun Control Push As Soon As They Regain Control

House Democrats are planning an “aggressive” push to greatly expand gun control as soon as they take control of the House of Representatives in January, the Washington Examiner reports.

After a shooting at a California bar last week that claimed a dozen lives, Democrats have decided to shift (briefly) away from prioritizing several investigations into the Trump administration and President Donald Trump, and focus instead on passing strict gun control measures, including universal background checks, a national ban on “high capacity magazines,” a ban on “assault-style” weapons, and a provision that would allow law enforcement to temporarily confiscate weapons from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) told The Wall Street Journal last week that he intends to immediately push for the universal background check legislation which would require gun retailers and gun sellers to register all gun purchases through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The effort would close what Democrats call the “gun show loophole,” which they believe allows individuals to purchase guns in private transactions — at gun shows and elsewhere — without registering their firearms with any state or federal body.

It’s not clear how many more gun sales that system would record, given that most gun shows feature federally licensed retailers who are already required to do background checks through NICS and disclose sales to the federal government. Gun owners and gun rights groups also fear that a universal background check system could lead to a national gun registry.

Newly-elected Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath (GA) is a former spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s leading gun control advocacy organization, and is likely to join the push for a national gun registry and a national ban on “assault-style” firearms, even though Democrats have difficulty explaining what an “assault” weapons ban would outlaw.

Last week’s shooting took place in a state, California, which has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. The shooter, a former Marine reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, obtained and used a “high capacity magazine” even though such magazines are banned statewide.

The efforts will likely have the support of presumed Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who pledged last week to tackle gun control within days of gaining control of the House.

“The American people deserve real action to end the daily epidemic of gun violence that is stealing the lives of our children on campuses, in places of worship and on our streets,” Pelosi told a press conference last week.

The efforts aren’t likely to meet with success. President Trump has pronounced himself a fan of the Second Amendment, and despite Democratic control of the House, Republicans still retain a sizable majority in the Senate, and any bill would need to pass both Houses before becoming law.