WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats in Congress are once again trying to pass legislation to expand background checks on gun buyers in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. But the outlook looks bleak in the 50-50 Senate, with most Republicans opposed to significant changes to the nation’s gun laws.
It’s a familiar scenario for Democrats, who have been trying to expand controls and toughen gun control laws since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. Nineteen children and two teachers were killed. in Uvalde.
A look at the mostly unsuccessful efforts of Democrats to tighten gun control over the past decade:
Four months after Newtown, Senate Democrats lost five votes to pass legislation to expand background checks for commercial gun sales, including at gun shows and on the internet.
The amendment in question, drafted by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, included some measures intended to draw Republican support, including an expansion of certain interstate arms sales.
The then Democratic-led Senate also rejected measures to ban assault weapons and high-capacity firearm magazines. President Barack Obama called it “a shameful day for Washington.”
Now Republican-led, the Senate rejected a 2013 Manchin-Toomey proposal by an even wider margin a day after a shooting at a social services center in San Bernardino, Calif., in which 14 people were killed and more 20 injured. The Senate also rejected two proposals that would have made it more difficult for people the government suspected of being terrorists to purchase guns.
A week later, the GOP-led House blocked a Democratic effort to vote on legislation to limit arms purchases by suspected terrorists.
After a shooting in which 49 people were killed at an Orlando, Florida nightclub, the Senate staged a round of votes on four measures — two proposed by Democrats, two by Republicans — that would have expanded background checks or made it harder for suspected terrorists. to buy weapons. All four were defeated.
Following the 2017 shootings in Texas and Las Vegas and a 2018 school shooting in Florida, Congress passed a modest measure to help states comply with the national Instant Criminal Background Check system and to penalize federal agencies that do not comply.
President Donald Trump helped revive negotiations on the Manchin-Toomey proposal after a gunman opened fire on a mall in El Paso, Texas, and another attacked a popular nightlife spot in Ohio.
Attorney General Bill Barr launched a proposed legislation on Capitol Hill, and Democrats have held rare talks with the White House in an attempt to broker a compromise. But the Trump administration’s proposal never reached the House or Senate floor after Congress, and Trump was absorbed in impeachment proceedings against the president.
The House passed two bills to expand and extend the review period for background checks. The first bill is similar to the Manchin-Toomey amendment, but would also extend background checks to private gun sales, which the previous version would not have done.
The second bill would extend the review period for background checks from three to 10 days, a response to a 2015 shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooter in that shooting had obtained the gun after a three-day review, even though he had a previous arrest report.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer promised a vote on House bills, and President Joe Biden said, “We need to act.” But Senate action stalled and no votes took place as Democrats in charge of the 50-50 Senate were unable to broker a bipartisan compromise. Republicans and Manchin said they do not support the effort to extend background checks to private sales.
Amid outrage over the Texas elementary school shooting, Democrats are trying to reinvigorate negotiations on background check bills and “red flag” laws designed to keep guns away from children. people who could hurt themselves or others.
Schumer again promised a vote on gun control measures, but did not give a timeline.