The Basic Problem Exaggerated by Gun Interest Supported Legislators

There are people who want to harm other people. It is, to use a current term,  “trendy” for a variety of disturbed individuals and sometimes groups  to kill  many innocent people and often themselves with guns.  Some would say this is satisfy some need for attention or revenge or to decry their hopeless and desperate lives.  Some would say that media attention reinforces the attractiveness and effectiveness of these atrocious actions.  What ever the motivation, it is clearly the intent of many in congress supported by some presidents to make it easy to obtain weapons with maximum firepower to carry out their dastardly attacks.

And the NRA  and the candidates  they back of late has focused on legislation  to make sure it is easy for disturbed anti-social individuals and even groups to access weapons which have maximum impact whenever they choose to harm people as well as to absolve profitable enterprises selling weapon of any responsibility for their profitable enterprises.  In reviewing the bills below it is easy to see a trend starting with the “Citizen’s United” Case decided in 2010 which loosened restrictions on campaign donations that the bills that get the most attention are the bills that loosen gun restrictions particularly for those who we ought to be most concerned about
having access to weapons.  More money means more candidate’s backing wealthy contributors.

What Bills Actually Get to the Floor of the House and Senate to be Voted On.

If a bill has enough support it is usually brought before a committee charged with oversight in the particular jurisdiction for the subject.  But few bills have been presented for votes by the full membership. Why?  The bills that get voted on are pretty significant and not necessarily in a good way( see details below).

Unfortunately, in recent times,  most of these bills are tabled in committee due to the intransigence of House and Senate leadership. To quote Nancy Pelosi: “I have said it over and over: I would rather pass gun safety legislation than win the election, because people die from this,” she told reporters. Hitting congressional leadership for its unwillingness to take up the issue, she said, “Children are dying in our schools, in our communities, on our streets. All this Congress has to say is ‘let’s have a moment of silence.’

Speaker Ryan  “So, it’s not as if nothing has been done to enforce the laws we have in the books and make sure that people, bad people who aren’t supposed to get guns don’t get guns,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday in a radio interview with WIBC out of Indiana.

However, Ryan added, “I don’t think that means you then roll the conversation into taking away citizens’ rights, taking away a law abiding citizen’s’ rights.”

On the Senate side: Sen Murphy(Connecticut): Shootings a ‘consequence of our inaction’.   And “Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the press.  “I don’t think that an assault weapons ban fixes the problem, because you’ve got 24 million guns out there already.”

But some bills do get out of committee and are voted on by the full house or senate membership.  Below is a list of the bills in recent years and the results.

Credits:  Ashley Killough, Ted Barrett and Deirdre Walsh, CNN,  Thu February 15, 2018;

Concealed Carry Permit Reciprocity Bill

This bill is high on the priority list of the NRA and its supporters.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity (2011 and 2017, House; 2013, Senate): Did not become law. These bills would have allowed a person with a concealed-carry permit in one state to legally carry a concealed firearm in other states.


2017 Hearing Protection Act: Not Voted On

This legislation must have thugs everywhere laughing as silencers are the gun wielding miscreants best friend. This bill also represents another attempt by gun-rights advocates to override state and local legislation on these devices. A common theme of the gun lobby is to preempt local community efforts to take action they believe will help curtail gun violence.

This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers, and (2) treat any person who acquires or possesses a firearm silencer as meeting any registration or licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act with respect to such silencer. Any person who pays a transfer tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015, may receive a refund of such tax.

The bill amends the federal criminal code to preempt state or local laws that tax or regulate firearm silencers.

2017 Allow Some People with Mental Illnesses to Purchase Firearms

Many 2nd admendment rights advocates argue that mental health issues are responsible for gun violence but these same advocates also support opening up access to firearms to those with some mental illnesses.

Mental Health (2017, House and Senate): Enacted into law. This bill undid an Obama-era regulation that added some people with mental illnesses to the FBI’s background check database.

2016 Tighten Gun Show and Online Gun Purchase Background Checks

Murphy Amendment (2016, Senate): Did not become law. This measure would have expanded background checks to cover guns sold online and at gun shows.

2016 Ban Terrorist Watch List Members from Purchasing firearms

Another attempt to restrict the irresponsible from buying firearms, defeated.

Feinstein Amendment (2016, Senate): Did not become law. This measure would have barred people on terrorist watch lists from buying firearms.

2015 Tighten Gun Show and Online Gun Purchase Background Checks

Manchin-Toomey Bill (2015, Senate): Did not become law. This bill would have required background checks for the purchase of guns at gun shows and online.

2013 Ban large-capacity ammunition.

2013 Whitehouse co-sponsored Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act

Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act

  • to prohibit the transfer or possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, except for its lawful possession within the United States on or before the date of this Act’s enactment; and
  • the importation or bringing into the United States of such a device (with some exceptions).
  • Identification Markings: Requires a large capacity ammunition feeding device manufactured after this Act’s enactment to be identified by a serial number that clearly shows that the device was manufactured after enactment.
  • Whoever knowingly violates this law shall be fined, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
  • Full Text:

Close Gun Show Loopholes

Closing Gun Show Loophole (1999, House and Senate): Did not become law. This refers to separate measures in each chamber that would have (broadly speaking) required people purchasing guns at gun shows to undergo a background check and a three-day waiting period.

Prohibit Law Suits Against Gun Manufacturers Passed in 2005, signed by G.W. Bush into law

Note:  Designed to protect sellers and manufacturers from  liability from misuse of guns and related products.  While 2nd amendment advocates claim most gun owners are responsible, legislation such as summarized below is directed at avoiding consequences for irresponsible use of weapons.

Public Law 109-92:

The act was passed by the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2005, by a vote of 65–31.[9] On October 20, 2005, it was passed by the House of Representatives with 283 in favor and 144 opposed.[10]

The final bill passed only after adding an amendment that mandated safety locks on handguns, and after preventing the renewal of the assault weapons ban from being added.

Some exceptions:  Exceptions within the law that allow lawsuits to go forward fall under “negligent entrustment” and “predicate exception” actions, which target negligent retailers or manufacturers who violated local statutes applicable to the sale of firearms, but these cases are difficult to prove and rarely clear the PLCAA threshold in court.[32][33] Experts argue that the PLCAA also hinders safety enhancement and self-regulation that can be achieved through civil liability claims against the industry. The immunity from accountability that the law grants the firearms industry can contribute to illegal gun sales, negligent marketing, and failure to apply safer design choices.[34]

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association thanked President Bush for signing the Act, for which it had lobbied, describing it as “… the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years into law”.



Assault Weapons Ban of 1994

Assault Weapons Ban (1994, House and Senate): Enacted into law, expired in 2004. This law banned people from making, selling or owning certain types of semiautomatic weapons.

Bills, or admendments to other bills, to renew this ban have been periodically offered, but have been unsuccessful under current congressional leadership.

Original Brady Bill

Brady Bill (1993, House and Senate): Enacted into law. Refers to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Passed in 1993, the Brady bill established five-day waiting periods and required background checks for gun purchases.

Master List of Votes on Gun Control

Much of our information on gun legislation was derived from the excellent NPR article sourced below.  Additionally it summarizes the votes by state and elected representative.