By Joseph Lord
A group of 21 vulnerable House Democrats led by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) has penned a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) requesting that a Democrat-favored omnibus gun control package be separated into individual bills.
The “Protecting Our Kids” omnibus gun control package was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee during an emergency hearing on June 2.
That bill, among other provisions, would ban the sale of “any semiautomatic centerfire rifle or semi-automatic centerfire shotgun that has, or has the capacity to accept, an ammunition feeding device with a capacity exceeding 5 rounds” to citizens below the age of 21; currently one only needs to be 18 to buy such a weapon.
It would also codify the Department of Justice’s controversial ban on bump stocks, a weapon modification that increases the fire rate of a semiautomatic firearm.
In addition, it would also make it a federal crime to possess weapons that critics have pejoratively labeled “ghost guns,” usually describing homemade or 3D-printed weapons without a serial number.
In total, eight bills are included in the package.
In their letter to Pelosi, Spanberger and her Democratic colleagues asked Pelosi “not combine these bills into one large package.”
“Rep. Spanberger and her colleagues who signed this letter look forward to moving all of these measures forward, and they believe that each merits its own vote,” a spokesperson for Spanberger told another media outlet. “The American people expect action, and they deserve to see which proposals can move forward, as well as which specific proposals GOP lawmakers are refusing to support.”
In the letter, all 21 Democrat signatories emphasized their support for every bill in the package but suggested it is unrealistic to think that the bill could win sufficient bipartisan support if kept in one package.
“While we wish every Member of Congress in the House and Senate would join us in supporting all these bills, we know that is not our current reality, and given the composition of the U.S. Congress, we know we must have bipartisan support for bills we want to become law,” Spanberger wrote. “As Members of the majority party, we must make a good faith effort to invite our colleagues across the aisle to join us in debating the merits of each bill and in voting for each bill.”
In the House, the bill as it stands, and each of its individual components, are all but sure to squeak through along party lines. But in the Senate, where all legislation needs the support of at least 60 members to overcome the filibuster threshold, the bill faces a steeper challenge.
Spanberger acknowledged this: “We fully expect each of these bills will pass in the House, but as we focus on actually delivering for a hurting America, passing each bill individually will ensure that every commonsense measure we are putting forth arrives in the U.S. Senate with the maximum bipartisan support it may garner, recorded through individual votes—giving us the maximum chance of passing gun violence prevention legislation in the Senate and into law.”
However, in a Dear Colleague letter, Pelosi said that the bill would be voted on, as a package, this week. Thus far, she has given no indication that she intends to change course, and it seems unlikely that the Democrats who signed the letter will get their way.