Even This Modest GOP Gun Bill Is On The Ropes In Congress

The bill would give incentives to agencies and states to follow the current law.
Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 28, 2018

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has taken over the conversation in Washington, D.C., and most lawmakers are doing a lot of talking about ways to make sure massacres like the recent one in Florida don't happen again. But at this point, all that talk looks like it's going to get the same result on Capitol Hill as every other modern mass shooting: nothing.

The only bill that's making any real waves is what's called the Fix NICS bill from Sen. John Cornyn. His bill would basically encourage states and agencies to provide info to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

"It wouldn't actually change anything. It would literally just create more incentives for bodies to follow law that already exists," Politico congressional reporter Elana Schor said.

Democrats obviously want to go a lot further, including an actual expansion of background checks and a look at possibly banning certain rifles. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has even hinted his party might block the Fix NICS bill unless they get a commitment that the Senate will vote on other gun control measures.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn't made any promises for any other such measures reaching the Senate floor.

"He supports the Fix NICS package, but he has refused to answer Democrats' pleas for votes thus far and said only that he wants to focus on school safety," Schor said. 

A similar bill has passed in the House, but conservatives added a pretty controversial provision that would let people with concealed carry permits take their weapons across state lines. That idea likely wouldn't make it through the Senate.

"This is an absolute non-starter for Democrats and gun groups, who say it would essentially create a national gun license and expand gun owners' carrying capability," Schor said. "What they want is restrictions on guns and gun safety provisions."

That leaves even this modest proposal floating at an impasse. If the Senate can pass it without the concealed carry provision, it will be up to House Speaker Paul Ryan to get his caucus behind the narrower version of the bill. And that's all before any movement on any other broader gun control legislation even gets a debate.