House lawmakers are planning to roll out a measure on Tuesday that would require universal background checks for nearly all firearms purchases, as House Democrats attempt to make good on their pledge to address gun control with their new majority.
The proposal, headlined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), is a bipartisan measure, with Rep. Peter T. King (N.Y.) serving as the lead Republican co-sponsor.
According to King’s spokesman, the package -- the existence of which was previously reported in Politico -- will seek to impose universal background checks for the purchase and transfer of firearms, with some exceptions for hunting and family, but will not address an assault weapons ban.
For years, Democrats and several Republicans have been calling for Congress to take steps to better regulate gun purchases and possession, pointing to a spate of recent mass shootings such as the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., the 2017 massacre at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, the 2016 shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, and the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), herself a shooting victim from a 2011 assassination attempt, plans to be in Washington on Tuesday to help unveil the legislation.
“Americans have spoken,” she said on Twitter. “It’s time to address our gun violence epidemic, and this new Congress will not sit silent.”
The new Democrat-controlled House will almost certainly be able to muster the votes to pass a gun-control measure that expands background checks. The measure may even pull along some Republican support: In late 2017, a similar proposal from Thompson and King drew 14 Republican co-sponsors.
But it remains unclear whether such legislation could clear procedural hurdles in the Senate, which remains under Republican control. The closest that the Senate has come to passing gun-control legislation expanding background checks was in 2013, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, when 56 senators rallied behind a measure — four votes shy of what they needed to clear procedural hurdles.
Last year, Congress adopted a law to encourage states and force federal agencies to report crimes and other infractions that would prevent individuals from legally purchasing firearms to a national database, in compliance with existing laws.