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Democratic Effort On Gun Control Hits Wall Of GOP Opposition

A Democratic strategy to move tougher gun laws through the House hit a brick wall of GOP opposition, all but guaranteeing the issue will be relegated to campaign messaging in the Republican-led lower chamber. Democratic leaders had launched procedural maneuvers designed to force votes on several gun reform measures over the objections of GOP leaders. The gambit, known as a discharge petition, is rarely successful. Supporters had hoped it would bear fruit this year given the growing public outcry over endemic mass shootings and the widespread popularity of proposals like expanded background checks, one of which is sponsored by a Republican, reports The Hill. Even that GOP lawmaker, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), has refused to endorse the petition, citing the likelihood that the background check bill would fail in the Senate. T

The unanimous Republican opposition illustrates the limited powers of the House minority, the reluctance of GOP moderates to confront their leadership publicly, and the polarizing nature of the gun debate, which remains partisan despite shifting attitudes outside of Congress. Reform advocates are furious that Republicans have refused to address gun violence even as it’s evolved to become the nation's leading cause of death for children. ​​“It’s an extraordinary time, and we need extraordinary people stepping up,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). “You know there’s another mass shooting coming. So will that be the mass shooting that finally allows these guys to do what’s right?” The Democrats’ discharge petitions attempt to compel votes on three separate gun reform bills: an assault weapons ban; expanded background checks before gun sales; and the adoption of a longer window for authorities to conduct those screenings. Fitzpatrick, lead sponsor of the bill to expand background checks to unlicensed parties who transfer firearms, dismissed the discharge petition as a political messaging move and said he would not sign the petition for his own bill. Fitzpatrick said he is trying to come up with compromise legislation that can get support from Republicans and pass in the Senate, but he said it is a “sensitive issue.”


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