September 28, 2022
The Senate’s bipartisan gun reform legislation is facing pushback from top Republicans in the House despite the measure having the blessing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), with House GOP leadership planning to whip against the bill.

The Senate’s bipartisan gun reform legislation is facing pushback from top Republicans in the House despite the measure having the blessing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), with House GOP leadership planning to whip against the bill.

While McConnell was one of 14 GOP lawmakers who voted to advance the measure in the upper chamber, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) told members they would not back the bill and encouraged them to follow suit during a GOP conference meeting Wednesday morning.

Critics of the bill have voiced reservations about its language to incentivize states to adopt red flag laws, which would ease the process to allow law enforcement to confiscate firearms and block the purchase of a gun from someone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, arguing that it fails to ensure due process and could infringe on law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

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“These red flag laws are unconstitutional and the provisions that would ensure our teachers are disarmed. That’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.

“How sad is it that our Second Amendment is under siege by the very people who are elected who are positioned to protect that right? Our Second Amendment was designed to keep us from tyranny and these same people are the ones who are wanting to take that away,” she added.

The bill, negotiated by a group of Senate lawmakers led by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), would provide grants to states that implement red flag laws, close the so-called boyfriend loophole, implement new background check requirements for people under 21, increase penalties on straw purchases, and would provide $300 million over the course of a half a decade for school safety initiatives.

Proponents of the legislation argued that the string of mass shootings in recent months, including the death of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, demonstrates the need for Congress to try to curb gun violence, with some noting that the measure is much narrower than the Democratic-led bill that passed the House earlier this month.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), who represents Uvalde, announced he planned to back the bill despite leadership’s push for members to reject the legislation.

“As a Congressman it’s my duty to pass laws that never infringe on the Constitution while protecting the lives of the innocent. In the coming days I look forward to voting YES on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” he said, noting he has seen threats of gun violence firsthand.

But conservative firebrands and gun rights groups have made it clear that they plan to target Republican lawmakers who vote in favor of the legislation, accusing their colleagues who back the bill of being “Republicans in name only.”

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) said the GOP base won’t tolerate “so-called Republicans voting for such horrific legislation.”

Conservative lawmakers are advocating a very different course of action than the bipartisan bill, with Rep. Andrew Clyde (GA), who owns a gun store, introducing legislation aimed at eliminating the federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition. The measure, dubbed the RETURN (Repealing Excise Tax on Unalienable Rights Now) our Constitutional Rights Act, currently has 47 GOP co-sponsors, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (NY).

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Wednesday he wants to pass the bipartisan bill by the end of this week. That means the House could take up the gun legislation shortly thereafter.

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