Gun Control Bills Languish In Congress Ahead Of Summer Break
Despite a flurry of attention after last month’s mass shooting in Orlando, Congress won’t likely pass gun control legislation before members leave for summer break, which starts next week and lasts until September.
On Thursday, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives indefinitely postponed a vote on the most likely contender — an NRA-supported bill that would have created a review of gun sales to those on the FBI terrorist watch list.
The bill is identical to legislation proposed by Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and Majority Whip; it creates a 72-hour window in which federal officials could deny purchases for those on the list.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Garrison, said in an emailed statement that although House leadership could bring it back, he's "glad the bill is dead."
"This bill was unconstitutional, did not effectively counter terrorism, and rewarded Democrats for disrupting regular order in the House," Massie said. "Also, the gun control language of the legislation had already failed in the Senate and was clearly dead on arrival in the House."
Democrats opposed the measure, pushing instead for a bill that would bar people on the federal "no fly" list from purchasing guns and another that would expand federal background checks to all gun sales.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, said that there's enough support for the background check legislation and “no fly” list ban to pass, but Republicans are unwilling to marginalize the most conservative members of their caucus.
“For the time being, the most extreme faction of the Republican majority is able to thwart the overwhelming desire of the American people for reasonable gun safety legislation,” Yarmuth said.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus oppose all of the above proposals and similar legislation has failed in the Senate.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said during a news conference Thursday that he postponed the vote on the terrorist watch list review bill because “we want to get this terrorism legislation right."
“We're trying to reflect the consensus of our conference so that we can bring a bill to the floor that deals with this violence, that deals with terrorism, that deals with these issues,” Ryan said. “And we're not going to rush it. We're going to get it right."
Last month, House Democrats staged a 26-hour sit-in in support of gun control legislation that disrupted House proceedings.
According to the Associated Press, Ryan has threatened to sanction Democrats for the sit-in and for using the video-streaming application Periscope to broadcast the protest.
Rep. Yarmuth says Democrats intend to “keep pounding the drums” on the gun control issue.