Pelosi prom­ises gun control back­ground check leg­is­la­tion

Says is­sue is top pri­or­ity for new Congress

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

Top Democrats vowed Thurs­day to take ac­tion “soon” af­ter the new Congress is seated next year to pass a “bi­par­ti­san” bill that could im­pose more back­ground checks on firearms.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia, the Democrats’ House leader, told re­porters that gun control is among the chief pri­or­i­ties for her party as it pre­pares to take the ma­jor­ity.

“We will pass com­mon sense gun vi­o­lence preven­tion leg­is­la­tion soon, and … it will be bi­par­ti­san,” she said at her weekly press con­fer­ence.

Rep. Mike Thomp­son, a Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat who heads a gun control task force for his party, said the bill would tighten the ex­ist­ing regime of back­ground checks, which ap­plies to sales from li­censed deal­ers but does not cover pri­vate trans­ac­tions by non-deal­ers.

Mr. Thomp­son and other Democrats say they sense mo­men­tum thanks to their in­creased ranks and to the at­ten­tion gar­nered by hor­rific shoot­ings such as Fe­bru­ary’s high school mas­sacre in Park­land, Florida.

The Democrats gath­ered Thurs­day with rel­a­tives of vic­tims of re­cent shoot­ings and sur­vivors of gun vi­o­lence in ad­vance of the sixth an­niver­sary of the New­town, Con­necti­cut, el­e­men­tary school shoot­ing.

Congress re­sponded to the Park­land shoot­ing this year by boost­ing school safety fund­ing and push­ing to have more records be en­tered into the FBI’s na­tional back­ground check data­base.

Ad­vo­cates in­sist 2019 will be dif­fer­ent, af­ter many win­ning House can­di­dates cam­paigned ag­gres­sively on gun control — even in swing dis­tricts — and gun control groups made up what had been a con­sid­er­able po­lit­i­cal spend­ing gap with groups like the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion.

“We are break­ing the vice­like grip of the NRA and the gun lobby on this in­sti­tu­tion,” Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, told the shoot­ing sur­vivors Thurs­day. “You put gun vi­o­lence on the bal­lot this Novem­ber and we won.”

Mr. Blu­men­thal said one of his first pri­or­i­ties in the new Congress will be to rein­tro­duce a fed­eral “red flag” bill he rolled out with Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can, that would al­low fam­ily mem­bers and law en­force­ment to pe­ti­tion a court to have guns taken away from some­one judged to be a dan­ger to self or oth­ers.

Var­i­ous gun control groups have un­veiled their own lists about what they want to see pri­or­i­tized next year, but com­mon items in­clude tight­en­ing gun­pur­chase back­ground checks, spend­ing on fed­eral gun vi­o­lence re­search, and pass­ing such “red flag” or “ex­treme risk” laws.

“It has taken the po­lit­i­cal class a half a decade to catch up, but they are fi­nally there,” said Sen. Chris Mur­phy, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat. “We will get a bill passed through the House of Representatives.”

Mr. Mur­phy also ac­knowl­edged, though, that Democrats don’t cur­rently have the votes to get ev­ery­thing they want passed through the GOP-con­trolled Se­nate. He told ad­vo­cates that change won’t hap­pen right away.

“This is a so­cial change move­ment of epic pro­por­tion and no so­cial-change move­ment of any sig­nif­i­cance or con­se­quence in this coun­try has suc­ceeded overnight,” he said. “It takes years and years. It takes both set­backs and small vic­to­ries.”

Gun rights ad­vo­cates, mean­while, have like­wise been skep­ti­cal that ma­jor new gun leg­is­la­tion will ul­ti­mately get through the Se­nate. They also say that a re­newed push in the House could ac­tu­ally serve to juice lag­ging gun sales if the is­sue gains more at­ten­tion next year.

“While they may pass bills in the House, I’m not en­tirely con­vinced that these pro­pos­als will pre­vail in the Se­nate or be signed by the pres­i­dent,” said Lawrence G. Keane with the Na­tional Shoot­ing Sports Foun­da­tion. “The Se­nate’s be­come more pro-gun — not less pro-gun … and ob­vi­ously, we have the most pro-gun, proSe­cond Amend­ment pres­i­dent in his­tory.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“We will pass com­mon sense gun vi­o­lence preven­tion leg­is­la­tion soon, and ... it will be bi­par­ti­san,” said House Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia. Democrats will control the cham­ber in Jan­uary.

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