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House committee to vote on sweeping gun control bill in emergency meeting

Store managers show a customer ammo at the Get Loaded gun store on June 30, 2016, in Grand Terrace, Calif. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
June 01, 2022

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a last-minute markup session for Thursday to consider and advance an array of new gun control proposals, including a “high-capacity” magazine ban.

The markup session will consider a bill brought by committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called the “Protecting Our Kids Act.” According to Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, the House Judiciary Committee made the rare move of scheduling Thursday’s markup session on what had been a recess week.

The bill includes several gun control proposals Democrat lawmakers have signaled support for in recent years, including raising the age to purchase semiautomatic centerfire rifles or semiautomatic centerfire shotguns to 21-years-old.

The committee will consider the gun control measures just days after a gunman entered an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and killed 19 children and two adults. According to investigations of the shooting timeline, the 18-year-old suspect fired shots outside the school for 12 minutes before entering the building through an unlocked door. Investigators believe the school’s resource officer was also not present at the time of the shooting. It also took about 77 minutes between when the gunman entered the building and when responding officers finally entered the classroom he was barricaded in and fatally shot him.

The bill also establishes a federal ban on the ownership of “large capacity ammunition feeding devices,” including any “magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device” capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The bill provides an exclusion for an attached tubular capable of only accepting .22 caliber rimfire ammunition. The bill also provides an exception for qualified law enforcement officers.

The bill additionally makes it a federal offense to commit a so-called “straw purchase” of a firearm, by buying it on behalf of another person.

Nadler’s bill also includes provisions on safe firearms storage. One provision makes it unlawful for a gun owner to keep a firearm at a residence where they believe a minor is likely to gain access to it without their permission unless they have a way of securing the firearm. Violations of this provision can result in a $500 fine and forfeiture of any improperly stored firearms.

A second firearms storage provision states that if a person is injured as a result of a minor gaining possession of an unsecured firearm, the owner can face a fine and up to five years in prison.

The bill also seeks to codify recent regulations brought by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on so-called “ghost guns” and bump stocks into federal law. The bill requires any firearm to be made traceable with the inclusion of a unique serial number engraved or cast onto its frame or receiver by a licensed manufacturer. The bill bans the ownership of any device that “materially increases the rate of fire of a semiautomatic weapon or approximates the action or rate of fire of a machinegun.”

Nadler’s gun control proposals are likely to advance through the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary committee and could pass in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. The measures face tougher odds in the U.S. Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats and Democrat-caucusing independents like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). While the House needs a simple majority to pass Nadler’s proposals, ten Republicans would have to join with Democrats to prevent a filibuster in the Senate.