On Wednesday, two months after Las Vegas and one week before the Sandy Hook five-year mark, Congress had its busiest day of action on gun legislation in years. The results were not good for the gun lobby. Here’s what you missed, and what it all means.
The House Passed “Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” But the Underwhelming Vote Margin Is the Big Story.
As expected, the majority of House Republicans ignored opposition from law enforcement, the public and editorial boards across the country in order to pass the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017,” but a closer look at the numbers spells trouble for the gun lobby:
- In 2011, “concealed carry reciprocity” (H.R. 822) passed the House by a 118-vote margin. Wednesday, with roughly the same partisan makeup, the House passed “concealed carry reciprocity” (H.R. 38) by just a 33-vote margin.
- More than twice as many Republicans voted NO (14) than Democrats voted YES (6).
- 18 House members who voted for “concealed carry reciprocity” in 2011 voted against it on Wednesday.
As reported by the New York Times, Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Warner (D-VA) all say that they are against “concealed carry reciprocity,” after previously voting for it in 2013.
While the House voted to undermine state gun laws, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on bump stocks legislation and the consensus Cornyn/Murphy “Fix NICS” bill.
When the Acting Director of the ATF testified that the agency is re-examining whether it can regulate bump stocks as machine guns, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said, “Congress exists actually to move forward sometimes more quickly, and I think it’s something we should all look at, rather than wait several months and find out we may have to act to specifically focus on the bump stock issue.”
The hearing also demonstrated broad bipartisan support of S. 2135, the Fix NICS Act, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). The modest, bipartisan bill would improve the background check system, and has enough support from both political parties to overcome a filibuster. It is now incumbent on the Senate to bring the Fix NICS Act up for a vote and pass it without delay.
Meanwhile, the ATF will review whether or not bump stocks meet the federal definition of “machinegun,” and should be regulated under existing law. Up until this week, the ATF reportedly had maintained that current law does not allow them to regulate bump stocks because they do not meet that definition.
And McClatchy reports that the NRA’s effort to roll back silencer safety laws has stalled, in part because of public outrage:
“GOP leaders had difficulty finding a way to forge ahead, fearing an uproar. …
“[Representative Raul] Grijalva, the ranking committee member, told McClatchy on Friday that it was clear to him the SHARE Act as originally drafted could not advance, and it might not be so easy for Republicans to move the concealed-carry legislation, either. ‘The SHARE Act reacted a real public response against it, and I think that (concealed carry) is going to cause the same uproar,’ he predicted.”