A CBS News poll last week suggested gun-control advocates have missed their moment of momentum to pass stricter regulations, with support down to 47 percent compared to 57 percent in the wake of the December massacre at Sandy Hook elementary.
Despite the administration’s attempts to keep the strictest measures, like a renewal of the assault weapons ban that not even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) thought could overcome procedural hurdles, in the spotlight — President Obama even had Newtown families at today’s Easter Egg Roll — Democrats are in for a challenge when Congress returns next week from recess.
Still, the debate is just around the corner. Before leaving for the Easter break, Reid began procedural motions to pick up a package of gun-control legislation when the Senate returns. It promises to bring high drama with a group of Republican conservatives threatening to filibuster any new gun bills.
The flurry of gun-control bills introduced at the beginning of the 113th Congress in January, many reactive to the Sandy Hook tragedy, just scratched the surface. Lawmakers continue to introduce new regulations, and many of these move forward in the shadow of more famous cousins such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) assault weapons ban. Still, control of congressional chambers may change, and there’s no guarantee these bills and others won’t have a life if reintroduced in a future Congress.
H.R. 236: Crackdown on Deadbeat Gun Dealers Act of 2013
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) introduced this bill to increase the number of annual Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) at gun dealers from one to three and increase to five years the term of imprisonment for knowingly making a false statement or representation in required firearms records. Dealers selling or otherwise disposing of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person is prohibited from possessing a firearm could face up to 10 years behind bars.
The bill would also give Attorney General Eric Holder authorization to suspend a dealer’s license and assess civil penalties for firearms violations, including failure to have secure gun storage or safety devices.
“Getting rid of these deadbeat gun dealers is an important complement to an effort that I hope will also include universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and improving mental health services,” said Langevin, who became a quadriplegic after he was paralyzed in a gun accident at age 16.
H.R. 332: Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act
Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) bill would remove barriers to civil liability for gun manufacturers, dealers and gun-rights interest groups, overriding 2005′s Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Schiff theorizes that if gun manufacturers, shops, and even the NRA cared more about being sued, they’d promote more gun-control measures. He worked with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to draft the legislation.
“Good gun companies don’t need special protection from the law, and bad gun companies certainly don’t deserve it,” said Schiff. “Other industries across our country like automotive manufacturers, pharmaceutical firms and even cigarette companies don’t enjoy special protection under the law, and there is no reason to give the gun industry the right to act negligently. As part of our larger effort to stop gun violence in the country, everyone – including gun companies – should be held accountable for their actions.”
H.R. 868: Safer Neighborhoods Gun Buyback Act of 2013
Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) is proposing a two-year $360 million grant to the Department of Justice that would give gun owners prepaid debit cards in return for turning over firearms. The qualifying guns would be ones, according to the bill, most used in crimes: Smith and Wesson .38 revolver, Smith and Wesson .40 semiautomatic pistol, Haskell Hi-Point JHP 45 semiautomatic pistol, Iberia Firearm JCP40 pistol, Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, Hi-Point CF380 .380 semiautomatic pistol, Raven Arms .25 semiautomatic pistol, Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun, Smith and Wesson 9mm semiautomatic pistol, Smith and Wesson .357 revolver, Bryco Arms 9mm semiautomatic pistol, Bryco Arms .380 semiautomatic pistol, Davis Industries .380 semiautomatic pistol, and Cobra FS380 .38 semiautomatic pistol.
The debit card given in exchange for the gun would “clearly and conspicuously” say “‘THIS CARD MAY NOT BE USED TO PURCHASE A GUN OR AMMUNITION’ in capital and raised letters on the card,” states the bill — the card even comes with an alert that will be triggered if the purchaser tries to use it to buy a gun. The amount is supposed to be 25 percent above market value of the gun; the congressman estimated that would usually result in a $40 to $400 debit card.