The House Judiciary Committee voted on Tuesday to approve gun violence prevention legislation as Congress faces pressure to take action in the wake of recent mass shootings.
The Democratic-controlled committee approved several bills, including a measure to ban high-capacity magazines and a “red flag” bill during a markup where the committee convened to debate and vote on a series of gun control measures. The bill would still need to be voted on by the full House to advance and the GOP controlled Senate has not said what if any gun control legislation it would take up.
The red flag legislation that the committee voted on Tuesday would set up a federal grant program to incentivize states to establish red flag laws — otherwise known as extreme risk protection orders, which enable a court to intervene and temporarily prevent someone who is in crisis from having access to a firearm. It would also create a federal extreme risk protection order program.
The committee also voted to advance a bill to prevent individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from possessing firearms.
A number of Republican lawmakers spoke in opposition to the bill ahead of the vote, arguing that red flag laws deny due process to Americans. Democrats in favor of the legislation countered that the legislation would protect due process rights.
The debate in the committee grew emotional at times.
At one point, Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia, who lost her son to gun violence, said, “I know the pain of losing a child to gun violence … for every single day that we fall into not taking action, mothers and fathers across this country will live through the same nightmare that I did.”
Later, the congresswoman said, “I truly believe that the moral crisis is that the guns have become our God,” adding, “Guns have become the means by which we solve all of our problems, have become our authority.”
Congressional Democrats have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a Senate vote on expanded background check legislation that previously passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
The Kentucky Republican has said, however, that he does not intend to put any gun legislation on the Senate floor unless President Donald Trump says he would sign it into law.
Trump has not yet made clear what legislation he would support.
Behind the scenes, Senate Democrats and Republicans have engaged in a series of talks with senior White House staff about a package of gun measures that could form the basis of legislation. But the White House has yet to formally propose a legislative package because Trump has yet to indicate his preference, according to lawmakers and aides in both parties.