The U.S. House of Representatives passed three gun control bills on Tuesday, ramping up the pressure on the U.S. Senate to “do something” now that Congress has returned from its legislative session. The three bills include a measure offering grants to states to set up “red flag” laws, a prohibition on gun ownership for those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes, and a ban on magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Later this month the House Judiciary Committee is also expected to pass a sweeping ban on semi-automatic firearms and magazines over 10 rounds.
The additional gun control measures passed by the House are meant to apply pressure to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said gun control would be “front and center” when the Senate returned, but has since said he won’t bring any gun bill to the floor that won’t be signed by President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said McConnell’s inaction has led to the deaths of Americans.
“We passed our bill in February. Don’t ask me what we haven’t done — we have done it. And if you are annoyed with my impatience, it’s because people are dying, (and) Sen. McConnell hasn’t acted. Why don’t you go ask him if he has any regrets for all the people who died because he hasn’t?”
I’m surprised she didn’t call McConnell a domestic terrorist. I thought that was the go-to insult for San Francisco politicians these days.
Meanwhile, President Trump met with Republican lawmakers to talk about a number of ideas, but it sounds like there’s still no definitive plan that Trump has agreed to support.
After the meeting, Rep. Steve Scalise, one of four lawmakers who attended the gathering, said it was a “general discussion just about a lot of different ideas,” including everything from more data being provided to the national background check system to so-called “red-flag” proposals, measures that seek to bar guns from those who may cause harm to themselves or others.
But Scalise, the House Minority Whip, did not provide specifics on what the president would actually support, nor did he provide a timeline of when any legislation could be taken up.
“The President’s been willing to meet with any members of Congress that are open to addressing real problems. But again, the real issue has to be focused on solving problems that have caused some of these shootings to happen as opposed to the approach some people want to take,” Scalise said. “There are many people that are trying to take advantage of these crises just to promote their own gun-control agenda that’s not focused as much on mass shootings as it is on law-abiding citizens.”
Other Republicans, like Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, are becoming increasingly vocal about the lack of specifics coming out of the White House.
At Senate Republicans’ weekly lunch on Tuesday, White House legislative aide Eric Ueland told senators that the administration was working on a proposal, but did not lay out what the administration was on board with, nor the priorities in tackling the issue.
“We’d like to know where the president is,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said after the lunch. “We would like to have the president provide a line-by-line, ‘this is what I would support’ direction to us, in which case, we’d be able to create a law.”
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. said no guidance from the White House was given throughout the lunch. “Everybody is talking about a lot of different things,” he said. “We need to know where the White House is.”
Where the White House is is between a rock and a hard place, frankly. Trump’s base is in no mood to compromise or support gun control measures, particularly when they’re a combination of ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional. But Trump has said he’s going to “do something”, so now he has to come up with something that won’t tick off a good chunk of his base as we move deeper into the 2020 election cycle.
If Trump is really serious about making a deal that his base will support, they’re going to have to get something out of it. Simply adopting the least bad gun control proposal isn’t going to do anything to endear him to the voters he needs next November, but it doesn’t appear that the White House is even looking in that direction. Instead, the indications are they’re looking for that least bad proposal, but haven’t settled on anything. In the meantime, House Democrats have plenty of really bad proposals they’re sending over to the U.S. Senate, and they’re not done yet.