Lawmakers have introduced several policy proposals aimed at gun control and preventing gun violence into the 113th Congress. These measures range from bans on specific weapons and ammunition, to efforts to expand school safety. Ways to help the mental health system protect society are being examined and investigations into why people turn to violence against strangers, and how to prevent it are being launched.
Bills to preserve gun rights are being introduced by Republicans. These measures reinforce the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Here is an overview of the major legislation as the 113th Congress addresses these issues.
Assault Weapons Ban
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced legislation (S.150) to reinstate and strengthen the expired federal ban on assault weapons.
Companion legislation (H.R.437) is being sponsored in the House by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY).
Gun Buyback Program
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has introduced separate legislation (H.R.226) that would create a tax credit of $2,000 for those who voluntarily turn in legally owned assault weapons defined by the bill. A voluntary gun buyback program is also included in the proposed assault weapons ban.
High-Capacity Magazine Ban
While a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines is included in the proposed assault weapon ban, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced stand-alone legislation (S.33) that would also ban the future manufacture and sale of magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. The bill also would prohibit magazines that can be converted to accept more than 10 rounds. Rep. McCarthy is sponsoring the House version (H.R. 138).
Ban on Online, Mail Order Ammunition Sales
Sen. Lautenberg has introduced a bill (S.35) that would prohibit the online and mail-order sale of ammunition. Rep. McCarthy is sponsoring companion legislation (H.R.142) in the House.
Universal Background Checks
Rep. McCarthy is sponsoring legislation (H.R.137) that would require background checks for every firearm sale. Short of requiring universal background checks, Sen. Lautenberg and Rep.McCarthy are both sponsoring separate legislation (S.22 and H.R. 141) that would close the so-called “gun show loophole” by requiring background checks on all firearms sales at gun shows.
Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has introduced a measure (S. 174) that would require individuals who want to purchase ammunition to be subject to a background check to ensure they are not among the banned category of buyers, such as felons, fugitives, domestic abusers and the mentally ill. Current law does not require such checks for ammunition sales.
Enhanced Gun Trafficking Penalties – Bipartisan Legislation
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has introduced legislation (H.R.452) that would target so-called “straw purchasers” by specifically prohibiting the purchase or transfer of a gun if the intended recipient is legally prevented from owning it.
Gun Ban for Suspected Terrorists
Sen. Lautenberg has introduced legislation (S.34) that would allow the attorney general to deny the transfer of guns to known or suspected terrorists on the federal government’s terrorist watch list, while allowing those individuals whose gun rights have been revoked to challenge the decision.
Gun Ban for Foreign Criminals
Sen.Feinstein has introduced legislation (S.261) that would prohibit those who have been convicted of a foreign felony, or a foreign crime of domestic violence, from possessing firearms in the United States. The Supreme Court held in a 2005 case that a current federal law banning gun ownership for those convicted “in any court” applies only to U.S. courts.
Overturning Executive Actions
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced legislation (S.82) to undo some of the 23 executive actions that President Barack Obama unveiled on Jan. 16 as part of his administration’s proposals to curb gun violence. Paul’s bill seeks to nullify any executive actions that could be construed as contravening the Second Amendment.
State Reciprocity of Concealed Carry Laws
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., has introduced legislation (HR 578) that would ensure that gun owners who have a legal right to carry a concealed weapon in their home state may do so in any other state that allows concealed carry. The House passed similar legislation in 2011.
Repeal of Gun-Free School Zones Law
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has introduced legislation (HR 35) that would repeal the federal law (PL 104-208) that prohibits firearms in school zones. The 1995 statute outlaws the possession of a firearm on the campus of a public or private school or within 1,000 feet of the grounds. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has introduced similar legislation (H.R.133).
New Resources for School Security
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CZ) has introduced several bills to improve school security. One bill (S 145) would expand an existing program, in place since 1989, that provides reimbursement for states that use National Guard forces to assist with drug-related law enforcement operations.
Improved Mental Health Services
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)_ has introduced bipartisan legislation (S 264) to improve mental health services. The legislation establishes criteria for behavioral health centers to ensure that they cover a broad range of services, including 24-hour crisis care and better integration of physical, mental and substance abuse treatment. The bill also calls for the modernization of existing behavioral health centers and the construction of new ones.
Research Into Violent Video Games
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)has introduced legislation (S.134) directing the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of violent media content, including video games and video programming, on children.