Fifteen months since gun legislation stalled on Capitol Hill, the Senate is on the verge of a new fight over whether to expand gun rights. The Washington Post calls it “an unanticipated development at a moment of already high tension in the fractured chamber.” A new political gun fight would be the first since a gun-control measure was defeated in April 2013, four months after national outrage over a mass school shooting in Newtown, Ct. The possibility of a new, mostly partisan debate on gun control likely would upend debate on a bipartisan measure to expand hunting rights on federal lands that is considered a potential political lifeline for a half dozen Democrats seeking reelection in Republican-leaning states.
Senators are poised to introduce gun measures this week. Republicans want to expand the right to purchase or transport firearms and ammunition across state lines, limit when a military veteran can be denied a firearm due to mental illness and allow gun owners to carry weapons on to sites controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers. Democrats are working on proposals to limit the sale of certain weapons and ammunition or expand the national background-check system. The proposals would be added to the Bipartisan Sportsmen Act, a measure to make it easier to hunt and fish on some federal lands, allow more public shooting ranges at national parks and wildlife refuges and make it easier to purchase federal permits to hunt ducks, geese and other waterfowl.