WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee, spurred by recent massacres in Ohio and Texas, announced on Friday that lawmakers would cut their summer recess short and return to Washington in early September to vote on three gun safety bills.
The measures put forth by Democrats for a vote on Sept. 4 include a ban on high-capacity magazines, a federal “red flag” law meant to prevent those “deemed a risk to themselves or others from accessing firearms,” and another bill that bars individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing a gun.
The committee said it would convene a hearing on Sept. 25 “to consider ways to address the dangers posed by assault weapons” — though it stopped short of promising a vote on an assault weapons ban like the one many liberals want, but which stands no chance in the current Senate.
The announcement that the House will begin moving new gun-related legislation comes as Democrats are trying to maintain pressure on the Republican-controlled Senate to take up a bill that already passed with some Republican support in the House. It would extend background checks to all gun purchases, including those at gun shows and online.
Additional action in the House, Democrats hope, will further prod senators to act after the shootings, which left 31 victims dead in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, this month.
“While we urge our Senate colleagues to act, Democrats in the House will continue to make good on our promise to work to keep our communities safe,” the Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said in a statement. “These should not be partisan issues, and it is my hope we can move forward on these matters with support on both sides of the aisle, including the president.”
Republicans on the committee did not immediately comment on the announcement, though they are expected to view the three new bills more skeptically.
Senate Republican leaders and President Trump have promised a full debate around gun safety legislation when they return to session on Sept. 9 and have shown some signs that the party is moving toward supporting a red flag law.
But the Senate also rejected calls from Democrats to return to session in August to vote on the background check bill, and in the past, lawmakers’ stated urgency to act has diminished as the public’s attention shifts away from a given massacre. Republican lawmakers remain largely opposed to more aggressive proposals, like an assault weapons ban or a ban on high-capacity magazines.