Limited Gun Provisions Set for Federal Spending Bill

The pending federal appropriations bill for the current fiscal year is likely to include modest measures to improve gun background checks and to offer training to schools on recognizing signs of gun violence.

Congressional leaders reached a tentative deal to pass modest gun legislation as part of a broader spending package, at the White House’s urging, reports Politico.. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) endorsed the inclusion of narrow, bipartisan legislation aimed at improving records and information-sharing in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Gun control advocates say the provision barely moves the needle on firearms restrictions. In return, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are discussing language stating that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can research gun violence. A law banning gun control advocacy by the CDC, known as the Dickey amendment, has had a chilling effect on such research.

The compromise is also expected to include a $50 million-a-year grant program to offer training to recognize signs of gun violence. The STOP School Violence bill, led by Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), has already overwhelmingly cleared the House. The so-called FIX NICS bill would increase penalties on agencies that do not report sensitive information to the FBI’s national background checks system that bars criminals as well as people with severe mental health conditions from purchasing a firearm. President Trump asked Congress to pass the bill, which is backed by the National Rifle Association, after the Parkland high school shooting in Florida. Republicans urged their Democratic colleagues to allow the text into the spending package — even though Democrats argue it’s unlikely to do much to curb mass shootings. Democrats have called for expanding background checks to include sales online and at gun shows, and many want to reinstate the ban on assault rifles.