Out of the dozens of bills introduced in the House on the first day of the 113th Congress, ten had to do with guns.
Eight of these were from Democrats seeking tighter gun controls. Two were from Republican freshman in line with calls from the National Rifle Association and Libertarian Party to put guns in the hands of adults who can fight off a shooter in the “gun-free zones” of schools.
The very first bill introduced on Thursday, after the block of resolutions reserved for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was H.R. 21 from Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).
The NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act was actually a reintroduction of legislation Moran produced in December after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“As the first bill I introduced this Congress, H.R. 21 represents one of my top priorities – taking commonsense steps to prevent future gun-related deaths,” Moran said.
The bill is named so because Moran took polling indicating which actions NRA members would support in principle, and rolled that into specific gun-control legislation. It includes requirements for background checks for every gun purchase and on gun-store employees, prohibits individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms, requires gun owners to report to police when their guns are lost or stolen, and establishes minimum standards for concealed carry permits.
“The NRA is working to block gun safety reforms, regardless of merit, and despite the schism between the group and their membership,” Moran claimed. “In the wake of the most recent tragedy, enough is enough. It’s time to take steps to better protect the public in ways that do not infringe on the 2nd Amendment.”
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) had the next gun control bill out of the 113th gate with the reintroduction of the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2013, first introduced in 2007 and named after a slain Chicago high school student. It would implement the same type of gun licensing system and records like VINs on cars.
Naturally, under Rush’s bill, these identification numbers would be “GINs.”
“It was important to reintroduce ‘Blair’s Bill’ on the first day in session to pioneer gun violence as the number one social injustice of our time,” said Rush, who also marked the beginning of his 11th term in office. “As a legislative body we need to address the issue of gun violence head on in order to avert any more senseless mass killings and shooting deaths of our youth in cities across this country.”
But freshman Republicans Steve Stockman (Texas) and Tom Massie (Ky.) — who, incidentally, each voted against John Boehner (R-Ohio) for a second term as speaker — each introduced bills to repeal the “gun-free” designation for school campuses.
“By disarming qualified citizens and officials in schools we have created a dangerous situation for our children. In the 22 years before enactment of ‘gun free school zones’ there were two mass school shootings. In the 22 years since enactment of ‘gun free schools’ there have been 10 mass school shootings. Not only has the bill utterly failed to protect our children it appears to have placed them in danger,” said Stockman, formerly a one-term congressman in the 1990s.
“What would have been horrific massacres on school campuses in Pearl, Mississippi, and Grundy, Virginia, were averted by armed staff and students. Armed citizens save lives.”
Perhaps filling the gap left by retired Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R), Stockman also picked up the “Audit the Fed” torch and reintroduced that bill.
Massie, an entrepreneur who campaigned for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), introduced H.R. 133, the Citizens Protection Act of 2013, which would repeal the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990. Ron Paul originally introduced the bill in 2007.
“A bigger federal government can’t solve this problem. Weapons bans and gun free zones are unconstitutional,” Massie said. “They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence. But they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves.”
Massie voted for libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) for speaker. Stockman voted “present” after ignoring the first call to vote.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) introduced a bill, summarized as a resolution “to prevent children’s access to firearms,” that would raise the legal age to own a firearm from 18 to 21.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) introduced the Handgun Licensing and Registration Act, based upon his home state’s registration law, to mandate on a federal level licensing and registration of every handgun sold.
“Every day that Congress fails to act to rein in gun violence, 80 more people die by gunfire – whether from homicide, suicide, or accident,” Holt said. “The tragedy at Sandy Hook showed in horrific terms that we have waited far too long to address gun safety. At the very least, we should insist that potentially deadly weapons are licensed and registered in every state in America, as they already are in New Jersey.”
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), though, eclipsed her colleagues by introducing four pieces of gun-control legislation on Day One.
McCarthy was elected to Congress as a stringent gun-control activist after her husband, Dennis, was killed in a Long Island shooting spree in 1993.
She introduced two bills to ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require background checks for every firearms sale, and to require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at gun shows.
A third McCarthy bill would require face-to-face purchases of ammunition, require licensing of ammunition dealers, and require reporting of bulk ammo purchases.
Rounding out her cache is the High Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, which gained dozens of co-sponsors in the 112th Congress after the Tuscon, Ariz., shooting in which former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot in the head.
It would ban the sale or transfer of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, a tenet of the decade-long expired assault weapons ban.
“These assault magazines help put the ‘mass’ in ‘mass shooting’ and anything we can do to stop their proliferation will save lives in America,” McCarthy said. “These devices are used to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time possible and we owe it to innocent Americans everywhere to keep them out of the hands of dangerous people. We don’t even allow hunters to use them – something’s deeply wrong if we’re protecting game more than we’re protecting innocent human beings.”
The Senate will not begin introducing legislation until later this month, which means Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) push to renew the assault weapons ban — and potential companion bills to the aforementioned House efforts — won’t surface for a couple of weeks.