Pelosi vows House will act af­ter mass shoot­ing

With Dems tak­ing reins, leg­isla­tive push ap­pears more likely

The Dallas Morning News - - Nation - Emily Cochrane and Sh­eryl Gay Stolberg The New York Times

WASH­ING­TON — Since the col­lapse of bi­par­ti­san gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion in 2013, a suc­ces­sion of grue­some mass shoot­ings has been greeted on Capi­tol Hill by thoughts and prayers, then in­ac­tion. But the killing of 12 peo­ple late Wed­nes­day at a Cal­i­for­nia coun­try and west­ern bar came just 24 hours af­ter Democrats — many of whom cam­paigned in sup­port of gun con­trol — re­gained the House ma­jor­ity in the midterm elec­tions.

This time, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democrats’ long­time leader, promised a leg­isla­tive re­sponse when her party takes con­trol in Jan­uary.

“I do be­lieve” there will be ac­tion, Pelosi said in an in­ter­view Thurs­day on CNN, “be­cause in this Congress, the one that we’re in right this minute, there is bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion to have com­mon­sense back­ground checks, to pre­vent guns go­ing into the wrong hands.”

The likely first push will be a ver­sion of the bill writ­ten af­ter the Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School shoot­ing in 2012 — sub­ject­ing al­most all gun sales to a fed­eral back­ground check, in­clud­ing in­ter­net and gun show trans­ac­tions. Newly elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives will de­scend on Wash­ing­ton next week for fresh­man ori­en­ta­tion, min­gling with vet­eran law­mak­ers and kick­ing off the leg­isla­tive dis­cus­sions.

“We want the new mem­bers to be a part of this con­ver­sa­tion,” said Drew Ham­mill, a spokesman for Pelosi.

A leg­isla­tive lunge to­ward gun con­ trol in the in­au­gu­ral months of the 116th Congress would of­fer up the first test for the new Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity. The Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate, for­ti­fied Tues­day with new con­ser­va­tive hard­lin­ers, has balked at any leg­is­la­tion that can be painted as curb­ing gun own­ers’ rights. Af­ter a gun­man opened fire on Repub­li­can law­mak­ers last year at a sub­ur­ban base­ball field, Repub­li­cans ac­tu­ally pressed to loosen gun con­trols.

And Democrats could face their own di­vi­sions. A num­ber of vic­to­ri­ous Democrats cam­paigned on re­duc­ing gun vi­o­lence and strength­en­ing gun laws, in­clud­ing Lucy Mcbath of Ge­or­gia, whose son was killed in a 2012 shoot­ing; Ja­son Crow, from the sub­urbs of Den­ver, who made ral­ly­ing cries of the mass shoot­ings at Columbine High School and an Au­rora, Colo., movie the­ater; and Abi­gail Span­berger of Vir­ginia, a for­mer CIA of­fi­cer who sup­ports a ban on cer­tain firearms with mil­i­tarystyle fea­tures.

“I hope that we take swift ac­tion and do it fairly soon to en­act sen­si­ble gun law re­form that will keep com­mu­ni­ties safe,” said Veron­ica Es­co­bar, who will suc­ceed Beto O’rourke as the House mem­ber from El Paso. “I’m so tired of be­ing heart­bro­ken — so tired of feel­ing worry and con­cern for my chil­dren and fam­ily. It’s about time we do some­thing about it.”

“If the pres­i­dent or the Se­nate chooses not to sup­port it, frankly, it’s on them,” she added, “but we have to try and we have to con­tinue to try un­til we get it done.”

Gun safety marches and a new breed of ad­vo­cates — most promi­nently March for Our Lives, the move­ment led by the teenage sur­vivors of the Feb. 14 shoot­ing at a high school in Park­land, Fla. — bol­stered young­voter turnout. Around two dozen can­di­dates sup­ported by the gun lobby were de­feated Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to Gif­fords PAC, the gun safety group run by for­mer Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords, who was shot in the head in a mass shoot­ing in 2011.

“I think we need to find a way to work to­gether to find some real so­lu­tions to re­duce gun vi­o­lence, con­sis­tent with the Sec­ond Amend­ment,” said Colin Allred, who ousted a vet­eran Repub­li­can, Pete Ses­sions, in the Dal­las area.

Some in­com­ing fresh­men are warn­ing against over­promis­ing or politi­ciz­ing a tragedy.

“As Democrats, we should not try to make this a po­lit­i­cal is­sue that is about gun leg­is­la­tion, be­cause any of the gun leg­is­la­tion we’re ad­vo­cat­ing for would not have pre­vented this,” said Katie Hill, who de­feated Rep. Steve Knight in a Cal­i­for­nia dis­trict near Wed­nes­day’s shoot­ing. “We lose cred­i­bil­ity if we try to make it as if it would’ve.”

The gun­man, a for­mer Marine, bought his hand­gun legally in a state with some of the tough­est gun con­trol laws in the coun­try.

Damian Dovarganes/the As­so­ci­ated Press

Shoot­ing sur­vivor Devin Bre­vig (left) stood with his sis­ter Alexa Bre­vig and their mother Fri­day out­side the Border­line Bar and Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif. The state’s gun laws — among the na­tion’s tough­est — didn’t stop the man who killed a dozen peo­ple at the bar Wed­nes­day night from buy­ing his hand­gun legally.

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