WASHINGTON – Some members of Congress are pressing for action on new gun safety measures following last week’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school.
Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Upper Marlboro, said he is planning to introduce legislation that would prevent teenagers from buying a semi-automatic rifle or assault weapon.
The measure would raise the federal minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 years old, the same age for buying a handgun.
In a letter sent to his House colleagues Friday, Brown requested that Congress “close this outdated loophole” and asked for cosponsors for his bill.
“Most Americans have to wait until the age of 21 before they can legally buy alcohol, rent a vehicle or gamble in most states,” Brown’s letter said. “But under federal law, an 18-year-old can walk into a gun store and buy a military-style assault weapon.”
According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released Tuesday, a majority of Americans (66 percent) now support stricter gun laws.
Other gun control legislation also received new looks following the tragedy.
The “Fix NICS Act,” bipartisan legislation that would push states to accurately report and send criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System – penalizing those that don’t and rewarding those that do – was introduced last November after a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that killed 26 people.
Backers said the measure would make background checks more reliable and universal, something supported by 97 percent of respondents to the Quinnipiac poll.
The bill, introduced by Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both of Connecticut, apparently received support from President Donald Trump Monday.
“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Trump also responded to the shooting by signing a memo directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department to ban so-called “bump stocks,” modifications that turn semi-automatic guns into automatic weapons.
In a tweet, Murphy called the president’s support of the bill proof that “the politics of gun violence are changing,” indicating a step in the right direction for bipartisan talks going forward.
The senator was quick to point out in the same tweet, however, that “no one should pretend this bill alone is an adequate response to this epidemic.”
The Connecticut lawmakers have been outspoken advocates for tightening gun laws. In 2012, a 20-year-old gunman murdered 20 young children and six adult staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Florida mass shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took 17 lives and sparked a call for gun law reforms from the surviving students and new allies across the nation.
One of those students, David Hogg, 17, told CNN that politicians “are the adults” and need to overcome their partisan politics to “take some action.”