House to mark up package of gun violence prevention bills as Uvalde shooting continues

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House to mark up package of gun violence prevention bills as Uvalde shooting continues

A House aide told NBC News that the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee is planning an emergency session Thursday to mark up a package of gun violence prevention bills and send it to the full chamber for a vote as soon as possible.

The omnibus guns bill - called the Protecting Our Kids Act - comes on the heels of a series of mass shootings that shocked the country, most recently in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 elementary school children and two teachers.

The package includes measures that would raise the age for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 years old, make it a federal offense to import, sell, make or possess high-capacity magazines, with some exceptions, and stiffen penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases.

A committee aide said it would include proposals for best practices for and regulate gun storage, and build on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ban on bump stocks. The plan of the panel was first reported by Punchbowl News.

The House of Representatives is out of session this week, so the meeting was scheduled. A Democratic aide said part of the goal is to put pressure on Republicans.

The aide said we felt like we needed to do something big and comprehensive after two mass shootings in two weeks.

The Senate, where Democrats control a 50-50 majority and require 60 votes to pass gun-related legislation, has long odds that most of the bills will be passed by the end of the year. They will face fierce opposition from Senate Republicans who have opposed new gun restrictions, but it's not clear how long it takes to get to the latest shootings.

Senate leaders have encouraged a negotiation between Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, as Republicans face pressure to support gun safety measures.

It is inconceivable to me that we have not passed significant federal legislation trying to address the tragedy of gun violence in this nation, especially since Sandy Hook the pace of everyday gun violence has escalated over the past two years, Murphy said on ABC's This Week. Murphy said that time is different and that is my hope. We are going to meet early next week to try to find common ground. A congressional aide familiar with the Senate talks said issues on the table include red flag laws, expanded background checks, enhanced school security measures, additional money for mental health services, and safe storage laws. The aide said it was too early to know the details of the various items.

Any gun restrictions would have to get the minimum of 10 Republican votes needed to defeat a Senate filibuster. To the extent that there would be any GOP interest, sources say it would be limited to measures addressing failures specific to the Uvalde shooting.

Cornyn told reporters over the weekend that they were already having those discussions in person and on the phone. On Tuesday we will be meeting on a Zoom call to see if we can agree on a basic framework for how we go forward.