A majority of House Democrats on Monday backed legislation banning assault weapons, and party members on Tuesday discussed additional gun reform in the wake of a mass shooting at a high school in Florida where 17 were killed, but gun control is still a difficult issue for candidates in some conservative leaning districts, The Hill reports.
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Both lawmakers and survivors from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 have pushed for reviving the assault weapons ban — the shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used a semi-automatic rifle in his attack — but the National Rifle Association has opposed the idea, along with the White House.
Still, Rep. Ted Deutch introduced legislation for a sweeping ban and has already won the endorsement of more than 150 lawmakers.
“Americans don’t own tanks or missiles, so why should our streets be flooded with weapons of war made for the sole purpose of killing people?” said Deutch, a Democrat who represents Parkland.
Embracing aggressive restrictions can be an issue for Democrats in the upcoming elections, and the NRA will likely go after the party hard leading up to voting. Some lawmakers could also see sponsorships dry up, according to the Hill.
“It’s one of those fundamental issues that riles up American politics — it’s up there with abortion and immigration — and they need to be very careful,” a former Democratic leadership aide told the Hill. “If a Democratic candidate, or the party as a whole, overextends on this issue, then it becomes incredibly easy for the Republicans to play that up in a lot of districts.”
Democrats are also considering legislation that would expand background checks, allow law enforcement and family members to petition a judge to confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous, lift a provision prohibiting the CDC from researching gun violence, create a special committee to examine gun violence, banning bump stocks and imposing age limits on gun purchases.
Pelosi, one day after the shooting, said she would “rather pass gun safety legislation than win the election.”
“I don’t want to wait that long,” she said referring to January when Democrats hope to be in control of the House. “We could have a select committee right now.”