House Gun Control Bills Teed-Up For Senate Boot; Trump Vows ‘Just-In-Case’ Veto
Democrats took time out from former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee on February 27 to pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 — H.R. 8 — in a 240-190 vote.
A day later, the House approved H.R. 1112, extending the deadline for green-lighting uncompleted background checks from three to 10 business days in a 228-198 vote.
The proposed universal background check bill and “closing the Charleston Loophole” proposal are the most significant emergence of gun control legislation in congress in a generation, sparking jubilation among gun control advocates.
Kris Brown, president of Brady — the gun control group formerly known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — called the House vote “a monumental step forward for gun violence prevention in our country.”
“On to the Senate!” she said.
But neither measures have much hope of passing in the Senate and, should that happen, [President Donald Trump](https://www.outdoorlife.com/is-trump-administration-really-looking-out-for-outdoorsmen-and-women-that-might-be-up-to-interior/ said he would veto it.
Democrats have a 235-197 advantage in the House. Republicans maintain a 53-47 majority in the Senate. Neither parties in either chamber have the votes to overturn a presidential veto.
The White House said a day before the House adopted its universal background check bill that Trump’s advisers would recommend he veto the bill because it would apply “burdensome requirements” that were “incompatible with the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to keep arms.”
The statement offers some reassurance that Trump’s knee-jerk support for universal background checks expressed in the wake of last year’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting has waned.
On February 20, 2018, Trump tweeted, “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!”
Two days later, he tweeted, “I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue — I hope!”
The White House statement indicates the president is unlikely to sign the bill in its present form, although his administration is defending its federal bump stock ban in court.
A key newly-elected Republican Senator who signed a major gun control bill as a governor last year said he would vote against both House bills.
“I reviewed it and I’m not going to support it,” Sen. Rick Scott told reporters on February 28. “I support the Second Amendment and I’m not going to do anything that’s going to attack law-abiding Americans from to have access to their Second Amendment rights.”
As Florida governor last year, Scott signed legislation that raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 from 18 and also allowed some teachers to be armed, as part of a school safety bill adopted in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
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DICK’S Doubles-Down A Year After Imposing Controversial, Costly Restrictions On Gun Sales
DICK’S Sporting Goods’ sales took a financial hit by pulling “high-capacity” magazines from stores and halting the sale of firearms to anyone under 21 years old, prompting Walmart and Kroger to do the same.
The retailer is now calling for sales at stores open for at least 12 months to be down between 3 percent and 4 percent in 2018, largely because of weakness in the hunting category.
But DICK’S Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack is doubling down on DICK’S policies and new affiliation with gun control groups.
“We talk about it internally and I often say: If we had a mulligan, we’d do it all over again,” he said in New York on February 25 to accept the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s “Force for Good Award.”
Since its decision last February, in fact, DICK’S Sporting Goods has begun testing the removal of all hunting products from 10 stores, replacing those items with higher-margin merchandise, like baseball gear and kayaks.
Stack said the retailer is trying to boost its e-commerce sales, open two new fulfillment centers and grow its footwear sales — a category he said has been improving thanks to product innovation from Nike and Adidas.
DICK’S Sporting Goods shares are up more than 20 percent since.
Stack signed into a CEO’s letter to Congress in support of the H.R. 8 background check bill. Background checks are something “both sides of the aisle can get behind it,” Stack told CNBC on Feb. 25.
Stack has also joined Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety — another front group financed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — arguing for gun safety across the U.S.
The continued loss of revenues from gun sales?
“We’re not really worried about that right now,” Stack said.
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‘Gunshine State’ Lawmakers To See 60-Plus Gun Control/Red Flag Bills
Florida’s 60-day legislative session begins Tuesday and, at last count, more than 60 gun control measures, from “assault weapon” bans to “red flag” laws await lawmakers in Tallahassee.
Although Florida is a Republican “trifecta” state with the GOP controlling the state house and the governor’s mansion for 20 years, the rising swell of gun-control bills reflect shifting political dynamics in the “Gunshine State” where, historically, anything that sniffed of an infringement on gunowners’ Second Amendment rights was DOA.
That, apparently, changed with last March’s adoption of Senate Bill 7026, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a quickly-assembled $400 million response to the Parkland Valentine’s Day school shooting that included several previously inconceivable gun-control measures.
SB 7026 raises the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21; requires a 3-day waiting period to buy firearms; bans “bump stocks;” and gives greater authority for law enforcement to seize weapons under “red flag” laws.
Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, has filed House Bill 175, which would rescind the gun-control measures in last year’s SB 7026. It has been referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and House Judiciary Committee.
But otherwise, Hill’s bill seeking to expand gunowners’ rights is an outlier amid a flurry of gun-control proposals that lawmakers will see in, at least, committee if not on chamber floors.
HB 455, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, would prohibit possession and sale of “military-style assault weapons” and “large-capacity” ammunition magazines. It was pre-filed January 22 — the day before a gunman murdered five women in a Sebring bank. The bill has little chance for adoption but a petition drive to get a constitutional measure before voters in 2020 is gaining momentum.
SB 466, the Senate companion to Guillermo Smith’s “assault weapons” ban, introduced by Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Ft. Lauderdale. It has been referred to the Senate Judiciary, Criminal Justice and Rules committees.
SB 500, introduced by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, which would prohibit the “distributing, transporting, transferring, selling, or giving of an ‘assault weapon’ or ‘large-capacity magazine.'” A “grandfathered” ban, referred to the Senate Criminal Justice and Appropriations committees and the Criminal and Civil Justice subcommittee.
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IN THE COURTS
Suits Seeks Injunction To Delay March 29 Implementation Of ‘Bump Stock’ Ban
Gun Owners of America is among gun-rights advocacy groups that have signed onto a legal challenge of the Trump Administration’s “bump stock” ban, starting with a request for a preliminary injunction to prevent new rules from going into effect on March 29.
In its filing before the U.S. Western Michigan District Court, the plaintiffs argue the president and federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) do not have the power to change the legal definition of a machine gun to include bump stocks — which Trump’s order did, even after the ATF concluded for a decade “bump fire stocks do not meet the federal statutory definition as to what constitutes a machine gun.”
GOA called Trump’s rule “arbitrary and capricious. It is arbitrary, because it is founded on political pressure and demonstrably false factual assumptions, rather than on fixed rules, procedures, or law.”
There are 520,000 bump stocks in the United States, the GOA maintains. Under the new regulation, guns owners would have to destroy or turn in bump stocks by March 29. Bump stocks would fall under prohibitions of possessing machine guns.
The Trump administration has defended its bump stock ban, repeating that they allow firearms “to fire like a machine gun.”
U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Kalamazoo will hear oral arguments on the request for a preliminary injunction this month in the lawsuit against the Department of Justice, ATF and government officials.
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