House panel ponders ending break early to pursue gun legislation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of the Democratic-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee could end their August recess a week early to move forward on legislation to curb gun violence after shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 people dead, aides said on Monday.

The Democratic aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision has been made, said committee lawmakers could return to Washington on Sept. 4 to prepare three or more bills for votes in the House of Representatives, which is set to reconvene on Sept. 9 after a six-week summer break.

Back-to-back shootings just over a week ago in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have outraged the general public and prompted both Democrats and Republicans to call for legislative action, despite political differences that have frustrated efforts to strengthen gun laws in the past.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler wants to consider measures, including a “red flag” bill to provide an incentive to states to adopt laws to deny guns to people deemed a threat to themselves or others, the aides said.

A similar measure is being pursued by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, and Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat on the panel.

The House committee is also considering measures to address the availability of high-capacity firearm magazines, gun violence that involves hate crimes and other topics, according to one aide.

Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump for sending mixed messages on gun control measures and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for refusing to call the Senate back into session early to consider gun legislation the House has already passed.

Trump at times has voiced support for toughening background checks for gun buyers, but he failed to mention the idea in a public address last week that focused on mental illness, the internet, social media and video games as potential causes of shootings. The president has suggested that he could sway the powerful National Rifle Association to drop its opposition to gun restrictions.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Leslie Adler

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