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House Democrats wait for Dorian to pass before taking on mass shootings

The House Judiciary Committee originally had scheduled a markup of three bills addressing gun violence for Wednesday. Five members of the committee are from Florida and three members are from Georgia, where Hurricane Dorian is leading to evacuations and airport closures.
Gif of Hurricane Dorian tracks Aug. 24-Sept. 3. Images from NOAA [NOAA | NOAA]
Published Sep. 3

A special legislative meeting on gun control scheduled after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian.

The House of Representatives and U.S. Senate aren’t returning to Washington from their annual break until Sept. 9. The House Judiciary Committee originally had scheduled a markup of three bills for Wednesday, amid an outcry for action after 22 people were killed in an El Paso Wal-Mart on Aug. 3 and 10 people were killed outside a Dayton bar less than 24 hours later.

Five members of the committee are from Florida and three members are from Georgia, where Hurricane Dorian is leading to evacuations and airport closures. Members of Congress typically return to their districts when major weather events strike.

“It is unfortunate that in light of recent tragedies Hurricane Dorian caused this crucial markup to be postponed, but meaningful gun safety legislation remains a top priority,” Judiciary Committee member Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Miami, said in a statement.

Florida Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, Val Demings, D-Orlando, Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, are also members of the Judiciary Committee.

Judiciary Committee member Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said Monday that he expects the committee to advance the bills next week instead, though no formal plan has been announced.

The committee was set to send three bills to the full House of Representatives. The first was a “red flag” bill that authorizes family members or law enforcement to petition a court to restrict an individual’s access to firearms if they’re considered a threat to themselves or others in the near future. Florida passed a red flag law as part of the Majory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act signed into law by then-Gov. Rick Scott.

The second is a bill that limits the size of magazines for firearms, and the third bill expands bans on firearm ownership for people who are convicted of certain hate crime misdemeanors. Republicans are not expected to back any of the three bills. Zero Republicans are among the 342 total cosponsors for the three bills.

Republicans in Washington aren’t expected to embrace widespread gun control measures unless President Donald Trump says he will sign a bill into law. House Democrats passed a bill to expand background checks in February, and Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart was one of eight Republicans to break from his party to vote in favor. Democrats also passed a bill to extend the background check review process from three days to 10 days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who hasn’t acted on either bill, said Tuesday that he won’t put gun control legislation up for a vote unless Trump approves.

“I said a few weeks ago that if the president took a position on a bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I would be happy to put it on the floor,” McConnell, R-Ky., told radio host Hugh Hewitt on his nationally syndicated show.

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