ATLANTA — Proposals on gun safety could be on the verge of a vote in Washington, as grieving families begin to hold funerals for the 19 children and two adults killed in the mass shooting in Texas.
On Thursday, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, including Georgia’s Hank Johnson and Lucy McBath, are expected to pass several gun-safety proposals as part of legislation that they’re calling the “Protecting Our Kids Act.”
One measure raises the age from 18 to 21 to buy semi-automatic rifles.
Meanwhile, another will impose new federal laws against importing, selling and possessing high-capacity magazines.
The committee's bill would then go on to the full House for a vote and, if it passes, would move to the Senate where Republicans have the votes to change or kill it. But the Senate is already working on a compromise that bi-partisan leaders there hope would be acceptable to the House.
Though across Georgia, there is skepticism.
At Gable Sporting Goods in Douglasville, for example--where, in April, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the new state law allowing people to carry guns without a permit--the shop’s co-owner, Rome Smith, doubts the proposed federal gun-safety laws will be able to stop violent crime.
“It's not going to prevent an evil person from committing an evil act,” Smith said. “It's going to hurt law-abiding citizens from defending themselves and their family... I want everybody who owns a firearm to be educated in that firearm and to train with that firearm, and a responsible citizen is going to do that.”
In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats may be ready to pass some compromise bills— such as:
- Enacting Red Flag laws nationwide
- Increasing mental health resources
- Making schools more secure
- Tightening the background check process for gun purchases
"We'll get back at it next week and hope to have some results," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel, (R) Kentucky, said.
In the meantime, families of the eight people killed in the spa shootings in Metro Atlanta last year are pleading with Congress and the Georgia legislature to hurry and act.
“This is an American epidemic,” said Michael Webb, the ex-husband of Xiaojie Tan, one of the eight killed in the spas last year.
“Stop already with the moments of silence and the thoughts and prayers after each massacre,” Webb said. “Georgia leaders, do something.”