White House to Congress: Veto likely on pending gun control bills


The North Portico fountain of the White House spouts during a snow storm Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. President Trump’s adminstration this wek warned two gun control bills on background checks could get a cold reception if they are sent his way. (Photo: D. Myles Cullen/White House)

As Democrats on Capitol Hill are poised to a vote on two new gun control bills, the White House is pouring cold water on the move.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calf., has scheduled a vote this week on a pair of measures to expand and enhance background checks on guns. The bills, H.R.8 and H.R.1112, would require a check on most private gun transfers and could allow pending checks to linger for 20 business days, respectively. With a roll call possible as early as Wednesday, President Trump’s administration is warning that if the legislation reaches his desk, veto ink could be waiting.

In a letter sent to lawmakers, the White House slammed H.R.8 as authorizing “burdensome requirements” on some gun transfers including very narrow exceptions that “would not sufficiently protect the Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms.”

To highlight the potential pitfalls inherent in the bill, the Administration pointed out that a gun owner would be unable to legally leave a firearm with a neighbor while traveling without getting a third-party involved to perform a background check. Likewise, domestic violence victims could not legally borrow a gun for self-defense without first completing a check.

‘The extensive regulation required by H.R. 8 is incompatible with the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to keep arms,” the White House said.

Gun rights groups have long argued that universal background check laws have little impact on crime while pouring the foundation for firearm registration and possible confiscation.

The second bill, H.R. 1112, would stretch the time allowed for delays on background checks from the current three business days out to 10, after which a would-be gun buyer could request a further review if the check is still pending — which could result in another 10 business days to finalize the check before the transaction could proceed. Both gun rights advocates and the White House argue such a policy could bar some gun transfers, pointing to the possibility that the check may be in limbo long enough to expire as NICS checks are only good for a 30 calendar day window from the time they are initiated.

“Allowing the Federal Government to restrict firearms purchases through bureaucratic delay would undermine the Second Amendment’s guarantee that law-abiding citizens have an individual right to keep and bear arms,” said the White House before concluding the President’s advisors would recommend he veto the bills should they be sent to him.

The upcoming vote comes the same week that the FBI released crime statistics that hold the first six months of 2018 saw a significant decline in both violent and property crimes when compared to the same period in 2017. This included a 12.5 percent drop in robberies and a 6.7 percent decline in murder and non-negligent manslaughter.

Passage in the Democrat-controlled House would kick the bills down the hall to the Senate, where Republicans still control the chamber. However, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., thinks there are 60 votes — enough to close debate — available to muscle enhanced background checks legislation through the Senate.

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