WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee will officially return a few days early from its summer break to work on gun control legislation, following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
The committee says that members will return for a Sept. 4 meeting to mark up three new pieces of legislation, including a bill that would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, a bill prohibiting people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing a gun, and the House version of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposal to give grants to states that enact so-called red flag laws that allow police to seize guns from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.
While some members have called for the full Congress to return as soon as possible, cutting the summer break short by even a few days upstages Senate Republicans who have been slow to bring gun legislation to the floor. The Senate left for its August recess a week after the House did and shows no signs of reconvening. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate will have “serious discussions” about gun control when it returns from recess. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had previously confirmed that the House panel would return early, but the Washington Post reported that Democrats were privately fighting over which bills to take up.
The House of Representatives has already passed two bills to strengthen background checks for gun sales — one that would expand background checks for nearly all gun sales and another that would close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows a gun sale to automatically go through if a background check is not completed within three days.
"There is more that we can and must do to address the gun violence epidemic. We will not sit idly by," said Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler in a statement. "I call on my Senate colleagues to join us in this effort by swiftly passing gun safety bills the House has already passed and also by acting on the additional bills we will be considering."
In a call with Democratic members Aug. 5, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on the idea that the full House should return early, Politico reported. Pelosi argued that members should keep the focus on McConnell, who has refused to take up the House’s gun control bills.
The House left Washington on July 25 for a six-week break to work with constituents at home and campaign for reelection. The full House is slated to return Sept. 9.
The Judiciary Committee is expected to hold another hearing Sept. 25 with a focus on military-style weapons. The shooters in El Paso and Dayton opened fire on their victims using military-style guns, both of which were legally obtained.
Nadler’s committee held a hearing in April about the rise of white nationalism and hate crimes.