What Can We Expect Will Happen To Gun Control With The New Congress?

Column by new Root Striker Sam Bocetta.

Exclusive to STR

Now that the 2018 midterm elections are over and almost all of the results are in, a major question that people on both sides of the aisle are sure to have is this: What can we expect to happen in regards to gun control once the new Congress is sworn in in January?

Since the Democrats will control the House and the Republicans the Senate, your quick answer may be nothing.  Even if the House were to pass every piece of gun control legislation they wanted to, from bans on “high capacity” magazines and semi-automatic rifles to requiring all firearms to be kept in gun safes to restricting concealed carry and so on, the Senate surely would vote down such measures, right?

And even if the Senate were to pass such legislation, wouldn’t Republican President Donald Trump swiftly and definitively veto it, knowing that signing significant gun control legislation would severely harm his image among conservative voters in 2020?

At first thought, the above scenario seems like the most likely to play out.  The only thing is it’s missing some very key details: President Trump has already indicated support for certain gun control measures, and Republicans passed one gun-related measure already.

Specifically, the party passed (and President Trump signed into law) the Fix NICS Act of 2017 in March 2018.  The measure basically applies penalties to government agencies that don’t report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Furthermore, following the high profile Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting in Florida, President Trump announced his support for banning bump stocks and directed the Department of Justice to do so.  

That’s not to mention that the President has a further history of supporting gun control measures.  In the year 2000, he outright stated his support for a “ban on assault weapons,” only to reverse his position when he ran for President in 2015 and declared that he would not support an assault weapons ban.

Following their victory in the midterms, Democratic Minority Leader (and likely next Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi outlined the Democratic agenda for the upcoming Congress, and made it clear that gun control would become a top priority for the party.  

Specifically, Pelosi stated that the party would be pursuing universal background checks over an assault weapons ban, claiming that a push for expanded background checks would be far more likely to garner support among moderate Republicans than assault weapons ban would.

This naturally begs the question: Will Republicans and President Trump be willing to compromise with Democrats on gun control legislation such as expanded background checks?

Obviously only time will tell in regards to that question.  But the simple fact of the matter remains that it remains a high possibility.  Counting on Republicans to automatically be against any and all gun control measures that are proposed will be very naive.  

While a ban on assault weapons or “large capacity” magazines is very unlikely with the new Congress (as such a ban would most certainly do large harm to Republicans the same way the previous assault weapons ban did to President Bill Clinton and the Democrats in 1994), other measures such as expanded background checks, raising the age limit to buy firearms from 18 to 21, and so on are not at all out of the question, especially now that the Democrats will be wielding more power in Washington come January.

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