House Democrat Bloc Presses McCarthy to Schedule Gun Control Votes ‘As Soon as Possible’

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
August 4, 2023Congress
House Democrat Bloc Presses McCarthy to Schedule Gun Control Votes ‘As Soon as Possible’
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to the press after meeting President Joe Biden to discuss the debt limit at the White House in Washington on May 22, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

More than 100 Democratic lawmakers have joined a call urging House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to schedule more votes on gun control measures after the Republican House majority took an early summer recess.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who leads the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, sent a letter (pdf) to Mr. McCarthy on Thursday, asking him to schedule House votes on gun-related bills “as soon as possible this year.” The letter was signed by 108 additional House Democrats on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

The letter also made reference to Mr. McCarthy’s decision last week to cancel votes and start the House summer recess a day early amid delays negotiating appropriations bills.

“We also have a new standing request that should the vote schedule fall apart again, you would fill that time to vote on life-saving gun violence prevention legislation, instead of canceling votes altogether,” the letter reads.

“Last year, 1,686 children were killed and another 4,485 were injured by gun violence,” the letter continues. “Despite this preventable carnage, the House has yet to vote on even one gun violence prevention bill.”

Gun-related legislation that the letter’s signatories have introduced this year has included bills to block the distribution of instructions for 3D-printed firearms, set gun storage requirements, and prohibit payment plans for people purchasing “assault weapons.” The letter specifically named one bill sponsored by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), called the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act.”

“To save the lives of our kids, we only need the opportunity to vote on gun violence prevention legislation and the support from a tiny minority of the Republican Conference,” the letter states. “For example, if only 20 Republicans, 10 in the House and 10 in the Senate voted for the Bipartisan Background Checks bill, we would have the votes to help prevent felons, domestic abusers, terrorists and people with serious mental health conditions from accessing guns.”

The “Bipartisan Background Checks Act” so far has the support of 205 Democratic co-sponsors, but no support from Republicans except its sponsor, Mr. Fitzpatrick. The bill specifically prohibits private firearms sales unless the parties first hire a licensed firearms dealer to conduct a background check for the sale.

The Thursday letter to Mr. McCarthy isn’t the first time Democrats on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force have tried to force a vote on gun legislation in the Republican-controlled House. In June, Mr. Thompson and other members of the bloc backed a discharge petition to force a vote on legislation to ban so-called assault weapons. The discharge petition has yet to come to a vote.

NTD News reached out to Mr. McCarthy’s office for comment on the letter but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

House Republicans Push Back Against Gun Regulation

While Mr. Thompson and other Democrats in the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force are seeking greater regulations, the Republican majority has not only stalled their efforts but attempted to reverse gun control measures brought about under President Joe Biden.

In June, the Republican-controlled House passed a resolution that would have nullified a rule finalized in January by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that reclassified pistols with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles. The Democrat-controlled Senate voted down the measure a week after it passed in the House.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has also introduced legislation to abolish the ATF. Such bills to reverse the Biden administration’s policies or end the ATF are unlikely to succeed as they also have to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate and then earn Mr. Biden’s signature to enact such laws.

Outside of direct legislation reversing Mr. Biden’s gun policies, some Republicans have pursued measures to reduce the power of federal gun control authorities by including measures in appropriations bills that cut their funding. Mr. Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) have openly called for House appropriators to support cutting the ATF’s budget.

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