The package includes a proposal from Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, requiring safe storage of guns in homes with children.
Need to Know
- Amid an uptick in mass shootings, the US House passed legislation to raise the minimum age to buy assault weapons and better regulate untraceable guns.
- Senate Republicans have signaled they’ll block the legislation.
- Proposed gun laws in the Michigan Legislature have met similar ends.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—A handful of House Republicans, including Michigan’s Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), joined the majority of their Democratic colleagues to pass a national gun safety package and “red flag” proposal this week. Very little is expected to change, however, amid staunch opposition by Republicans in the Senate who currently have the power to sideline changes to gun policy.
Of the 208 Republican representatives in the House, five voted for the package: Fred Upton (Michigan), Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania), and Chris Jacobs (New York). Trey Hollingsworth (R-Indiana) abstained. Democrats Jared Golden (Maine) and Kurt Schrader (Oregon) joined the remainder of Republicans in voting against the legislation.
The relatively moderate gun safety package was presented in seven parts, including raising the age to purchase assault weapons, limiting possession of high-capacity magazines, and enacting red flag protections.
In the Senate, 50 Republican senators carry enough votes to stymie most legislation via a filibuster. Without 60 votes, the 48 Democrats and two Independents can’t shut down a GOP filibuster. Republican senators have already indicated that they won’t pass the package, despite the measures having overwhelming support in public polling.
Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) architected a key provision of the gun safety package. The “Safe Guns, Safe Kids Act” would require secure storage of firearms in homes with children. In cases where guns weren’t properly secured and a child uses that gun criminally or to commit violence, the parents would be held liable and could face up to five years in prison.
“It’s a safe storage bill,” Slotkin said. “It just says if you’re going to have a weapon at home, that’s fine. You just have to take reasonable efforts to secure it from the children.”
Slotkin proposed the bill following the Oxford High School shooting, in which a 15-year-old sophomore used his parents’ gun to kill four students and injure seven others at a Michigan school last November. The parents of the gunman, Ethan Crumbley, failed to secure the gun used in the shooting and were charged by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office.
The major elements of the overall gun safety package passed by the House included:
- Raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic firearms to 21
- Tightening restrictions on gun trafficking by shutting down third-party purchases
- Requiring all firearms to have serial numbers
- Further regulating bump stocks by closing loopholes in the legal code
- Restricting the use of large ammunition-feeding devices and high-capacity magazines
- Requiring that the US Attorney General file a demographic report on who is deemed ineligible to obtain a firearm due to background checks
A faction of House Democrats, including Slotkin, initially argued that bundling the seven elements of the package together would reduce its chances of gaining traction in the Senate. The House issued record-keeping votes on each component of the legislation, but a final vote sealed them all into one sweeping bill. When the Senate picks up the legislation, it will vote on a singular, unified package.
Meanwhile, in Lansing, proposed gun control regulations have lingered without a hearing in the Republican-controlled Legislature. On Tuesday, educators rallied outside the Capitol to demand action on stricter gun laws and better mental health resources.
“Fortifying our schools and turning them into fortresses isn’t enough,” Chuck Alberts, president of the Lansing Schools Education Association teachers’ union, said to WKAR.
But Democrats in Michigan aren’t holding their breath. Following the Oxford shooting, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey promised Sen. Rosemary Bayer a hearing on red flag laws, which poll at over 70% in the state. That hearing has yet to come.
“I don’t have total confidence in him,” Bayer, who chairs the legislative Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Caucus, said of Shirkey’s promise following the Uvalde shooting. “I don’t trust that he’s going to follow through on this.”