Republicans and Democrats have found gun legislation both sides agree on. But that doesn’t mean it will pass.
In the wake of mass shootings in Nevada, Texas, and California, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, an outspoken advocate of gun control, introduced a bill to strengthen the federal background-check system for gun sales. Debates over gun control on Capitol Hill nearly always give way to inaction in the face of Republican opposition. But Democrats aren’t alone in supporting this new legislation: It is also backed by Republican Senators John Cornyn, the second highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, Orrin Hatch, Tim Scott, and Dean Heller.
The legislation doesn’t call for expanding restrictions on gun purchases; it’s meant to stop people from buying guns when they were never supposed to be able to in the first place. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, relies on state and federal officials to report mental-health and criminal-conviction records that legally bar individuals from purchasing firearms. But those records don’t always make it into the system.
After a gunman killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas, earlier this month, the Air Force conceded that it failed to report the shooter’s prior domestic violence conviction, an action that if it had been taken might have prevented the purchase of the firearms used in the shooting. The new legislation is intended to make sure that something like that never happens again.