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House committee preps gun control package after mass shootings in Buffalo, Texas and Tulsa

The House Judiciary Committee Thursday is meeting to prepare a package of gun-related bills for the floor, as Congress continues to press for gun safety reform in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting last week. 

Called the “Protecting our Kids Act,” the omnibus package the committee is considering would raise the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21, tighten regulations on “ghost guns” and ban new large capacity magazines, among several other things.  

The committee, led by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., met Thursday morning in a hybrid in-person and virtual event. The gun package will likely see a vote on the House floor next week, along with legislation on red flag laws. 

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Nadler opened the hearing by reflecting on “the days since the shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo, New York… the long, sad nights since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and… the last few hours, as we learned of yet more deadly gun violence in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Medical Office Building.”

The chairman further touted each provision of the package, then went on to counter some arguments he anticipated Republicans would make. 

“Nobody seriously believes that Hollywood or video games are to blame for the epidemic of gun violence in America,” Nadler said. “Our children watch the same movies and play the same games as children in Canada and England. and Japan.”

Nadler added: “You say these deaths were caused by a lack of mental health care… But I note again that other countries have people who are just as sick as sick Americans, and that those countries do not experience the gun violence that we do.” 

But Republicans say this package is a hastily-assembled attack on Americans’ rights, and that it doesn’t have a serious chance of passing the Senate. 

“What we are doing here is just designed to appeal to Democratic primary voters. The bill won’t make our schools safer. It will hamper the rights of law-abiding citizens, and it will do nothing to stop mass shootings,” Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said. “Democrats are always fixated on curtailing the rights of law-abiding citizens rather than trying to understand why this evil happens.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks at a news conference on July 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Jordan accused Democrats this week of taking advantage of tragedies to push their agenda on gun control. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Notably absent from the House omnibus gun package is anything on an assault weapons ban. With a relatively thin margin for error in the chamber, and lots of members in tight reelection races, it appears that Democrats may not have the votes for the policy. A senior Democratic aide told Fox News this week, on the possibility of a future effort to ban assault weapons, that “Conversations about future legislation are ongoing.”

The aide added: “We remain hopeful that every Member will see the urgency of this situation and the need to take common sense steps to address gun violence and save lives.”

The sense of urgency in the Thursday committee meeting may be increased even more by the fact fiche people died, including a gunman, in a shooting at a hospital in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday. 

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, second from left, speaks with Texas Department of Public Safety troopers outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday, May 25.

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But House-passed gun bills will have a very difficult time making it through the Senate, where the 60-vote filibuster threshold gives Republicans a say on any legislation. 

There, slightly more than 10 members from both parties are participating in talks about potential legislation that would be significantly less far-reaching than anything to come from the House. Among the issues on the table are federal legislation to encourage states to pass red flag laws and expanding background checks. 

“We are making rapid progress toward a common sense package that could garner support from both Republicans and Democrats,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday night after a meeting with eight other senators.

 

But with a significant portion of Republican senators dug in against any new gun legislation, even a modest compromise package faces significant hurdles. And Democrats, wary of Republicans potentially pulling out of talks, say they’re prepared to start having tough votes in the Senate if there’s no significant progress made in the next few days.  

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report. 

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