After an 18-year-old murdered 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, some members of Congress are striving for gun reform. The House Judiciary Committee met on Thursday, June 2 to discuss the Protecting Our Kids Act, which has been put forth and could be voted on as soon as next week.
Here’s what the Protecting Our Kids Act suggests and whether the Democrat-led movement will pass with enough Republican support.
Here's what the Protecting Our Kids Act says
Democrats, who narrowly control the House of Representatives, presented the Protecting Our Kids Act. New York Representative Jerrold Nadler (D) sponsors the act, and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) co-sponsor it.
The act aims “to provide for an increased age limit on the purchase of certain firearms, prevent gun trafficking, modernize the prohibition on untraceable firearms, encourage the safe storage of firearms, and for other purposes.”
The proposed minimum age requirement for purchasing firearms is 21 years old (versus the current requirement of 18 years old). Additionally, the act seeks to federalize red flag laws in which the government could take firearms from individuals who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Right now, some states have their own red flag laws, but they haven't been extended federally.
The act also calls for all firearms to be traceable and for more effort to be put into tracking undetectable firearms (such as those with serial numbers scratched off).
Finally, the act suggests laws strengthening requirements for safe storage away from minor, bans on firearm accessories that increase the speed and efficiency at which it can shoot, and restrictions on large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
Will the Protecting Our Kids Act pass?
At a gun control hearing on June 2, virtual attendee Republican Representative Greg Steube pulled out four individual guns to show on screen. Steube said, “Here's a gun I carry every single day to protect myself, my family, my wife, my home.”
The move shocked some members of Congress, but it shows where the majority of Republicans stand on gun reform (spoiler alert: they don’t).
The Senate is more evenly split than the House, and it’s unlikely the act in its current form will garner bipartisan support. At that point, the act would need 60 votes, including 10 votes from Republican members, to pass. A handful of Republican senators are open to or undecided on gun reform, while the vast majority are staunchly against it. Many have given quite a bit of money to the National Rifle Association (NRA) over the years. Mike Braun (Ind.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) each donated $1.3 million to the NRA, and Josh Hawley (Mo.) donated $1.4 million.
While the Protecting Our Kids Act may not pass in its entirety, it’s highly possible that Congress could get some sort of gun reform passed. Beefed-up background checks may be on the table in the meantime along with increased school security (the latter of which adds guns to the mix rather than reducing the number in the general public).