Will Congress Take Up Gun Bills? Leaders Are Mum

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The push to enact new federal gun restrictions after the Florida high school shooting faces formidable obstacles in Congress, where key Republicans have met calls for action with skepticism or silence, reports the Washington Post. Pressed by survivors of the Feb. 14 massacre, President Trump is willing to consider new laws improving federal background checks, raising the minimum firearm purchase age and banning some gun accessories. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have taken a hands-off approach, reflecting divisions within the GOP between lawmakers representing moderate suburban areas where there is wide support for new gun laws and those from rural, solidly Republican districts where any attempt to restrict firearms is seen as a creeping attack on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

While the former group has been vocal, it is the latter who constitute the bulk of the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, and are likely to dictate if any legislation is considered. What remains to be seen is whether the growing drumbeat for revisions will change this long-standing dynamic.  “I haven’t heard a strong, loud outcry for gun control,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who called for congressional oversight of the institutional failures that preceded Nikolas Cruz’s rampage in Parkland, Fl. Members of a bipartisan group that includes moderate Republicans, the Problem Solvers Caucus, are talking about a package of legislation, said co-chairman Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). Among ideas members have floated are expanding background checks, changing mental-health laws to allow more aggressive interventions for those with mental illness and a ban on accessories that allow semiautomatic rifles to be fired like an automatic weapon. One proposal would allow police to confiscate a gun for 21 days if there are reports of domestic abuse, mental health issues or threats, Politico reports.

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