U.S. House set to act on gun measures following Dayton, El Paso shootings

In the aftermath of the mass shootings this month in Dayton and El Paso, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee will meet in early September to act on a series of gun control measures, including 10-round limits on ammunition magazines, red-flag laws, enhanced background checks and adding new reasons for blocking someone from buying a firearm.

While Congress isn’t back for votes until the week of Sept. 9, the announcement by the House Judiciary Committee will bring lawmakers back just after Labor Day for committee work - with the goal of votes on the various gun bills in the House later that month.

Just days after the mass shooting in the Oregon District, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, announced support for gun restrictions, including limits on magazines, a ban on sales of military style weapons to civilians and allowing removal of weapons from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others – a red flag law.

But others in the southwest Ohio congressional delegation haven’t publicly expressed such changes of heart and some have doubled down on their opposition to gun control.

Credit: Ty Grrenlees/Staff

Credit: Ty Grrenlees/Staff

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a recent tweet: “The problem with red-flag laws is you’re guilty until proven innocent. It’s the same inverted standard that Bob Mueller tried to apply to President Trump. But that’s not how justice works in our great country.”

In Twitter posts, U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, expressed opposition to gun control measures, including red flag laws, and has said the focus should be on culture and mental health. “These horrendous and ongoing crimes are a symptom of our hurting culture. While most crime is declining, acts of despair (mass murder, suicide, addiction…) are spreading like contagion. We cannot underestimate the damage done by hostile cultural influences that bombard us - even sometimes in our schools and in public discourse,” he said on social media after the Dayton shooting.

In 2016, the Gun Owners of America gave Davidson an A rating.

In February, Ohio’s 12 Republican members of Congress voted against a bill to enhance background checks for gun purchases while the four Democratic members of Congress voted in favor.

Davidson issued a statement explaining his opposition, saying “Indefinitely extending the waiting period to purchase a firearm would deny countless Americans of their fundamental Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Congress should focus on making the background check process operate with greater efficiency, accuracy and fairness. This legislation fails to solve problems.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, is backed by the National Rifle Association, which called Chabot a “staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.”

Without responding to questions about how he would vote on the pending gun measures, Chabot said in a statement through his spokesman:“The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over Second Amendment issues, including gun control legislation. It’s our responsibility to consider any and all legislation that might make the American people safer.”

Democrats also tried to turn up the heat on GOP leaders in the Senate, where a bill to expand background checks to all private gun sales has been stalled for months.

“The Majority Leader should call the Senate back to Washington to debate and vote on gun violence legislation,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn.

Some Democrats also want to force a vote on banning certain assault weapons - Congress approved such a measure back in 1994, but it expired after 10 years.

President Donald Trump has held talks with some Democrats on the issue of expanding background checks, but his language at a campaign rally on Thursday night in New Hampshire did not signal any compromise on guns, as he focused more on the issue of mental health.

“It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger. It’s the person holding the gun,” the president said.

The bills on the schedule in September before the House Judiciary Committee include:

* H.R. 1186, the Keep Americans Safe Act. This bill would ban high capacity ammunition magazines.

* H.R. 1236, the Extreme Risk Protector Order Act, designed to help states formulate 'Red Flag' laws.

* H.R. 3076, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which would allow people to go into federal court to take a firearm away from a mentally unstable person.

* H.R. 2708, the Disarm Hate Act, which would add misdemeanor hate crimes to the list of items disqualifying someone from buying a weapon, under the current background check system.

* H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which stems from the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C. In that case, the shooter was able to buy his firearms - even though he would have failed the background check - because the feds did not conduct a check within three business days.

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