House panel plans early return to address gun measures

The House Judiciary Committee plans to cut its summer recess a few days short to consider three gun control bills in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Image: FILE PHOTO: Jerrold Nadler demands answers in Epstein's death
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the House Judiciary Committee, called on the Senate Friday to vote on gun safety bills the House has passed.Joshua Roberts / Reuters file

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By Alex Moe

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee will return to Washington earlier than planned next month to address gun violence in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the panel announced Friday.

The committee plans to meet on Sept. 4, cutting their summer recess a few days short, to consider three gun control bills.

The panel will weigh three new pieces of legislation that would ban high capacity magazines; institute “red flag” laws that would prevent those deemed a risk to themselves or others from purchasing a gun; and prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from possessing a gun.

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The committee will also hold a hearing on military-style assault weapons on Sept. 25.

“There is more that we can and must do to address the gun violence epidemic. We will not sit idly by,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement Friday. “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.”

The House passed a background check bill in February that the Senate has still not brought up for a vote. Since the mass shootings early this month, Democrats have been trying to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to allow the chamber to consider gun control measures.

“How many Americans will lose their lives or their loved ones to rampant gun violence before the United States Senate takes action?” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. asked at a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.

McConnell said in an interview last week with WHAS radio in Louisville that there would be “bipartisan discussions” regarding the possibility of expanding background checks and addressing red flag laws once the Senate returns from recess.

“What we can't do is fail to pass something. By just locking up and failing to pass, that's unacceptable. What I want to see here is an outcome, not a bunch of partisan back-and-forth,” McConnell said last week.

President Donald Trump, whose buy-in is seen as critical to the success of any potential deal to address gun violence, has recently been in talks with key members of the Senate on potential gun control legislation.

The White House has also reached out to members of Congress to discuss actions that could be taken on mental health and violence in video games and entertainment — areas the president has focused on in his public remarks addressing potential solutions — though as of earlier this week, no specific legislation had been proposed on either front yet.