Democrats push for gun con­trol

Bill would ex­pand back­ground checks for sales, trans­fers

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Matthew Daly

House Dems are in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion that would ex­pand back­ground checks for sales and trans­fers.

WASHINGTON — Days af­ter re­claim­ing the House ma­jor­ity, Democrats are in­tro­duc­ing gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion timed for the an­niver­sary of the shoot­ing of former Demo­cratic Rep. Gabby Gif­fords.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats will in­tro­duce a bill to ex­pand back­ground checks for sales and trans­fers of firearms Tues­day, the eighth an­niver­sary of the day Gif­fords was shot in the head at a con­stituent meet­ing in Ari­zona.

Gif­fords, who co­founded a gun safety group with her hus­band, Mark Kelly, said in a state­ment Fri­day that she was thrilled that her former House col­leagues were re­spond­ing to a gun­vi­o­lence epi­demic that killed nearly 40,000 peo­ple in 2017.

The bill ex­pand­ing back­ground checks “marks a crit­i­cal first step to­ward strength­en­ing Amer­ica’s gun laws and mak­ing our coun­try a safer place to live, work, study, wor­ship and play,” Gif­fords said. “I stand ready to do ev­ery­thing in my power to get this leg­is­la­tion across the fin­ish line.”

Democrats promised swift ac­tion on gun con­trol af­ter the party re­gained the House ma­jor­ity fol­low­ing eight years of Repub­li­can rule.

Pelosi called the bill on back­ground checks a com­mon-sense mea­sure and cited polls show­ing 97 per­cent of Amer­i­cans sup­port back­ground checks for all gun sales.

“Our Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity will press re­lent­lessly for bi­par­ti­san progress to end the epi­demic of gun vi­o­lence on our streets, in our schools and in our places of wor­ship,” Pelosi said. “Enough is enough.”

Rep. Mike Thomp­son, DCalif., who leads a gun vi­o­lence preven­tion task force in the House, said he and other law­mak­ers from both par­ties have been push­ing for years to ex­pand back­ground checks and ap­prove other gun-re­lated bills, but have been stymied by Repub­li­can lead­ers.

Not­ing that many fresh­man Democrats ran on the is­sue of prevent­ing gun vi­o­lence, Thomp­son said po­lit­i­cal mo­men­tum to ad­dress gun vi­o­lence is grow­ing.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple have been de­mand­ing we take ac­tion, and this new Congress will de­liver,” he said.

The back­ground checks mea­sure is likely to face opposition from the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate and the White House, where Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has promised to “pro­tect the Sec­ond Amend­ment.”

Jen­nifer Baker, a spokes­woman for the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, said a fed­eral back­ground check did not pre­vent Gif­fords’ shoot­ing, adding that “so­called uni­ver­sal back­ground checks will never be uni­ver­sal be­cause crim­i­nals do not com­ply with the law.”

Law­mak­ers should “deal with the root cause of vi­o­lent crime” in­stead of try­ing to “score po­lit­i­cal points and push in­ef­fec­tive leg­is­la­tion that doesn’t stop crim­i­nals from com­mit­ting crimes,” Baker said.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion moved last month to ban bump stocks, the firearm at­tach­ments that al­low semi-au­to­matic weapons to fire like ma­chine guns. Bump stocks be­came a fo­cal point of the gun con­trol de­bate af­ter they were used in Oc­to­ber 2017 by a gun­man in Las Ve­gas who fired into a crowd at a coun­try mu­sic con­cert, killing 58 peo­ple and in­jur­ing hun­dreds more.

A new reg­u­la­tion gives gun own­ers un­til late March to turn in or de­stroy the de­vices.

ALEX EDEL­MAN/GETTY-AFP

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the bill on back­ground checks a com­mon-sense mea­sure.

Gif­fords

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