Are Democrats Done With Gun Control For Time Being?

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Last week, House Democrats steamrolled two pieces of gun control legislation–one requiring universal background checks and one extending the amount of time gun dealers are required to wait to hear back on background checks–through the chamber. While there were some  GOP wins in the process, let’s not read too much into that. The Democrats are definitely willing to try and push gun control.


After all, they passed two bills over two days, right? It’s enough to make anyone wonder what’s next.

Then again, it looks like there might not be all that much left to come.

House Democrats took a victory lap this week as their new majority passed two priority gun control measures that the previous Republican majority had blocked for years, but they appear to be in no rush to pass more.

“Yes, not immediately, but this session,” Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler told Roll Call on Thursday when asked if his panel would be marking up more legislation designed to prevent gun violence. Not immediately, the New York Democrat said, is likely “after June sometime.”

Nadler’s remarks came after the House on Thursday passed, 228-198, legislation that would extend from three days to 10 days the time for the government to complete a background check on someone who’s trying to buy a gun from a licensed dealer before the sale can go through.

Rep. Dina Titus acknowledged last month that some proposals may take longer to pass than others. The Nevada Democrat represents parts of Las Vegas, where in 2017 a gunman equipped his rifles with bump stocks to rapidly fire at attendees of country music concert, killing 58 people.

“You start with those that you’re most likely to get support from across the aisle, and you build up to things that people consider more extreme, like bans,” she told Roll Call in January.

Of course, it’s easy to promise additional gun measures, but it’s also possible that they’re holding off for one simple reason: To see what the Senate does.


With Republicans having a firm hold on the Senate, the divided Congress is far less likely to pass any gun control laws as things currently stand. It’s possible that Democrats, pushing the bills they think are most likely to gain any Republican support, are waiting to see if they get any traction in the Senate before spending time pushing more bills that will never become law.

If so, it would be a prudent move by House Democrats.

I doubt they’re all that prudent, though. It’s also possible that Democrats holding off represents something else within the party. After all, 26 Democrats sort of defected to back a GOP proposal that would require gun dealers to notify ICE should an illegal immigrant try to purchase a gun. The amendment provided a serious bloody nose to Democrats who are trying to woo Hispanic voters while also passing gun control.

It’s possible they’re holding off to shore up internal support and to keep freshmen in line going forward. It might be required to prevent Nancy Pelosi from stroking out on the House floor.

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