File Photo: Rhino 500 handguns are on display at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits on April 14, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images, File

Congressional Republicans still back looser gun restrictions

The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/02/17 09:50PM
Senator Murphy looks for opening for gun laws
In the wake of the devastating mass shooting in Las Vegas, several Democratic policymakers are renewing their push for measures intended to reduce gun violence. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), for example, said yesterday he's moving forward with a proposal to strengthen background checks -- an idea that's long enjoyed broad national support.

Also yesterday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reached out to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), requesting that Congress create a bipartisan select committee on gun violence to examine which policies are most effective in saving lives.

In all likelihood, Republicans will ignore these requests. In fact, as the Washington Post reported, GOP lawmakers are eyeing new proposals to weaken gun restrictions, not strengthen them.

Last month, a House committee advanced a bill, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, that would make it easier to buy firearm silencers, which are treated akin to machine guns and explosives by federal authorities. Advocates of the measure, including the National Rifle Association, have cast it as a safety enhancement. [...]

The legislation also includes provisions that would loosen restrictions on transporting firearms across state lines and prevent certain types of ammunition from being designated as "armor-piercing" and thus subject to tighter federal oversight.

The bill, which we've been keeping an eye on in recent months, was poised to come up for a vote this week, but in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, GOP leaders have delayed consideration of the legislation.

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because this isn't the first time: Republicans initially delayed the bill on silencers because of the mass shooting that nearly killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). In other words, a mass shooting delayed a Republican gun bill, which made a comeback, only to be delayed by another mass shooting.

GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, are also eyeing a bill to allow states to honor conceal-carry permits across state lines, potentially weakening state-based restrictions, though it too will probably be delayed by the Las Vegas slayings.

If either (or both) of the measures pass, it won't even be the first gun bill approved by this Congress. A bill to expand gun access for the mentally impaired was approved in February.

Indeed, we appear to be looking at an arrow that's only allowed to point in one direction. After the gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the only federal gun measures that passed eased gun restrictions. A year after Newtown, the Boston Globe examined state laws and reported, "Today, it is easier, not harder, to carry a gun in many parts of the nation than it was before the Newtown massacre last Dec. 14."

So long as GOP officials have power, this will continue indefinitely.