(WASHINGTON) -- The comprehensive gun package introduced in the Senate Thursday faces an uncertain future, with many Republicans and moderate Democrats quibbling over the universal background check requirement in the bill.
But Congress has certainly already acted in some ways on guns, even passing a government spending bill that includes four gun provisions which actually loosen gun regulations.
The CR (Washington speak for continuing resolution) approved Thursday that will keep the government funded for the next six months included four gun measures that have long been in the CR’s base bill but were made permanent by the CR passed this week.
One measure prevents the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) from requiring firearms dealers to maintain inventories to ensure weapons haven’t been stolen, while another provision prevents the ATF from denying licenses to firearms dealers who report no business activity.
A third provision prevents the government from changing the definition of antique guns, and a fourth measure requires the ATF to include disclaimer language in its research data saying the information can’t be used to make conclusions about gun crimes.
These measures, tucked away in the CR, seem to loosen gun regulations as the Senate is introducing legislation it’s spent months cultivating.
Next month, the Senate will consider a comprehensive gun package, which includes universal background checks and a gun trafficking measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the gun legislation Thursday evening, and it will face a vote when the Senate returns from recess in April.
But the comprehensive gun package will face an uphill battle due to the universal background check portion of the bill, originally introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., which Republicans worry will lead to a national registry of guns.
And stripped from the comprehensive bill is the controversial assault weapons ban, which will be voted on as an amendment to the bill instead of as part of the full package. The assault weapons ban proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., drew heated debate between Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
Vice President Joe Biden, who has led the administration’s gun reform initiatives, called on Congress to show “courage” Thursday as they deliberate over the gun proposals next month and made the case for banning high capacity magazines, a proposal that’s not included in the comprehensive gun package.
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