Congress

The last new gun law passed by Congress had NRA support

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. said in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington that the House will vote this week on a GOP proposal aimed at keeping suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. said in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington that the House will vote this week on a GOP proposal aimed at keeping suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms. AP

After a 26-hour sit-in by House Democrats and a nearly 15-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats, Congress could be set to pass gun control legislation.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has agreed to hold a vote on a gun control bill this week that would allow the attorney general to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorist for three days. There would be a hearing with a judge during that period, during which the attorney general would have to convince the judge to block the sale with probable cause that the purchaser “will commit an act of terrorism.”

House Minority Leader Nany Pelosi, D-Calif., called the legislation a “toothless NRA bill,” in a statement, and accused Republicans of obstructing “bipartisan, commonsense gun violence legislation.”

It’s unclear if the legislation will pass Congress, given the Senate voted down four separate bills on increased gun control following a filibuster last month. The last time new gun control legislation was passed was in 2007, after years of efforts by former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-NY.

McCarthy’s husband was killed in a mass shooting that killed five other people in 1993. Her son was seriously injured but survived the same shooting. She became an advocate for gun control legislation, but most of her efforts did not result in passed legislation.

One bill she sponsored did pass both chambers of Congress in 2007 and became law in 2008. It required multiple federal agencies to keep up-to-date records on people who would be disqualified from buying a firearm, including those with documented mental health issues, those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, and those convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than a year. It was meant to make the National Instant Criminal Background Check System more effective and efficient.

Many have linked Congress’ inaction on gun control to donations that representatives and senators have received from the NRA.

The NRA supported the bill that passed in 2007, saying it “would allow some people now unfairly prohibited from owning guns to have their rights restored, and to have their names removed from the instant check system.”

The Senate voted down a bill similar to the gun control legislation Ryan has agreed to hold a vote on. That bill, which failed in June, was also backed by the NRA.

Congress did vote to renew a gun control measure in 2013, when a ban on plastic firearms was set to expire. Both the House and the Senate voted to renew the ban amid worries that plastic firearms could get through metal detectors without alerting security. The NRA didn’t oppose that legislation either.

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