President Trump’s White House announced that it has drafted legislation with the Justice Department that would expedite the death penalty for those who are found guilty of committing mass shootings.
The Decision comes after Saturday’s attack in West Texas that left seven people dead.
The initiative is part of a larger White House gun control package that will be sent to Congress after lawmakers return from their August recess on Sept. 9.
Still, there has been little hesitation from the Trump administration on the issue. In August, Trump said he was “directing the Department of Justice to propose legislation ensuring that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the death penalty,” adding that he wanted “capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay.”
Earlier this summer, Barr said the federal government will resume capital punishment and will move forward with plans to execute five inmates on death row for the first time in more than 15 years.
Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke who recently called for mandatory gun confiscations, has said that the death penalty for mass shooters is wrong.
Investigators have not said how the gunman obtained the gun used in the shooting, but he previously had failed a federal background check for a firearm, said John Wester, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Officials did not elaborate on when the gunman failed the background check, or why.
Online court records showed the gunman was arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas. Federal law defines nine categories that would legally prevent a person from owning a gun, which include being convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, being the subject of a restraining order or having an active warrant. Authorities have said Ator had no active warrants at the time of the shooting.
Many Republicans said they hoped to take action to curb gun violence. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said his party has been interested in “common sense solutions to prevent this from happening in the future while at the same time protecting due process for anyone who is a law-abiding citizen.”
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said that so-called “red flag” warning legislation, as well as expanded background checks, would be “front and center” on the Senate floor when Congress comes back in session.
Red flag laws generally require friends or family to establish by a “preponderance of the evidence” — a relatively lax legal standard essentially meaning that something is “more likely than not” — that a person “poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing or receiving a firearm.”
Late last month, the White House pushed back on claims by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that Trump had said privately that universal background checks were off the table. Trump has waffled publicly on whether new background checks were needed.
In the wake of two mass shootings last month, overwhelming and bipartisan majorities of voters said they favored background checks on gun buyers and taking guns from people who were a danger to themselves or others, according to a poll by Fox News.