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The House Judiciary Committee Thursday is meeting to prepare a package of gun-related bills for the floor, as Congress continues to press for gun safety reform in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting last week.
Called the “Protecting our Kids Act,” the omnibus package the committee is considering would raise the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21, tighten regulations on “ghost guns” and ban new large capacity magazines, among several other things.
The committee, led by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., meets at 10 a.m. in a hybrid in-person and virtual event. The gun package will likely see a vote on the House floor next week, along with legislation on red flag laws.
“In the last two weeks, 31 people have been murdered and another 20 injured in two mass shooting carried out by 18-year-olds legally armed with semiautomatic assault rifles,” Nadler said in a statement. “This is unacceptable, and it is past time for Congress to act. Our children, friends and families should not face the threat of horrific violence simply because they are grocery shopping, attending religious service, or in an elementary school classroom.”
But Republicans say this package is a hastily-assembled attack on Americans’ rights, and Democrats are trying to take advantage of recent tragedies to advance their agenda.
“I think it’s just wrong to attack the Second Amendment liberties of law-abiding citizens, and that’s what these bills do,” Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said this week. He argued that the “hodgepodge package” Democrats are trying to advance would not have even prevented the attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde that spurred Democrats to fast-track the bills.
“Democrats, their attitude is never let a crisis go to waste,” Jordan added. “They’re going to try to do their left-wing assault on the Constitution.”
Notably absent from the House omnibus gun package is anything on an assault weapons ban. With a relatively thin margin for error in the chamber, and lots of members in tight reelection races, it appears that Democrats may not have the votes for the policy. A senior Democratic aide told Fox News this week, on the possibility of a future effort to ban assault weapons, that “Conversations about future legislation are ongoing.”
The aide added: “We remain hopeful that every Member will see the urgency of this situation and the need to take common sense steps to address gun violence and save lives.”
The sense of urgency in the Thursday committee meeting may be increased even more by the fact fiche people died, including a gunman, in a shooting at a hospital in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday.
But House-passed gun bills will have a very difficult time making it through the Senate, where the 60-vote filibuster threshold gives Republicans a say on any legislation.
There, slightly more than 10 members from both parties are participating in talks about potential legislation that would be significantly less far-reaching than anything to come from the House. Among the issues on the table are federal legislation to encourage states to pass red flag laws and expanding background checks.
“We are making rapid progress toward a common sense package that could garner support from both Republicans and Democrats,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday night after a meeting with eight other senators.
But with a significant portion of Republican senators dug in against any new gun legislation, even a modest compromise package faces significant hurdles. And Democrats, wary of Republicans potentially pulling out of talks, say they’re prepared to start having tough votes in the Senate if there’s no significant progress made in the next few days.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.