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Democrats to start moving gun control legislation through Congress


Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee will reportedly meet in emergency session Thursday for the Democratic majority to mark up a series of gun control bills in the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

Democrats want to vote on gun control and campaign on GOP opposition to it as the nation is still roiling from the shocking murders of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Texas by a deranged gunman last week. They have introduced eight bills related to the issue and are calling their omnibus legislation the "Protecting Our Kids Act."

The bills would raise the age requirement to buy a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 years old; make it a federal crime to import, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possess high-capacity magazines, with a grandfather clause for existing magazines; require existing bump stocks to be registered under the National Firearms Act; bans new bump stocks; codify the Biden administration's new regulations on so-called ghost guns; crack down on straw purchases for firearms; and create new requirements for storing guns at home where minors are present.

According to Punchbowl News, Democratic leaders plan to bring the omnibus gun control package to the House floor early next week, where it is expected to pass. Right now they are ironing out the details on whether to bring up all the bills at once or vote on them individually.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team reportedly discussed action on guns after the massacre at Robb Elementary School last week and the racially motivated murder of 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store two weeks before.

"We felt like we needed to do something big and comprehensive after two mass shootings in two weeks," a Democratic aide told NBC News.

However, everyone recognizes that major gun control legislation has no chance of passing the U.S. Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster from Republicans. It's not even clear that the 50-member Democratic majority could pass a gun control bill without the filibuster, as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has previously opposed measures that would expand federal background checks — objecting to how these bills would apply to private transactions.

Still, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave his assent to begin bipartisan negotiations on some form of gun legislation last week. Reports indicate there may be small bipartisan consensus on a bill that would incentivize states to adopt so-called red-flag laws, which would permit police or family members of individuals believed to be a danger to themselves or others to seek a court order to have that person's guns taken away.

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