Senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) introduced an alternative gun bill this morning that would replace the current Senate proposal from Chuck Schumer and would replace the Manchin-Toomey background checks legislation. The proposal is the "Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act." This Cruz-Grassley proposal would "improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, increase resources for prosecutions of gun crime, address mental illness in the criminal justice system, and strengthen criminal law by including straw purchasing and illegal firearm trafficking statutes."
Grassley put an emphasis on the mental illness part of the bill. "We’ve put together an amendment that can effectively address some of the problems we’ve seen while protecting Second Amendment rights," Grassley said. "I’ve been very interested in the mental health aspect of this debate, so we include provisions to study and address that issue."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) announced that she'd be opposing the Manchin-Toomey bill. Ayotte had been a key target for the Manchin-Toomey advocates and with her opposition it will be difficult to marshal 60 votes in favor. She has announced cosponsorship of the Cruz-Grassley proposal today.
Here's the full summary of legislative provisions:
• Improve and reauthorize grants for NICS database;
• Require federal courts to submit relevant information to NICS;
• Ensure that relevant mental health records are submitted by states to NICS;
• Condition federal grant money for states on their submission of mental health records to NICS;
• Increase federal prosecution of gun violence by establishing the Nationwide Project Exile Program and establishing a high level federal taskforce;
• Study of the causes of mass shootings;
• Responsibly addresses gun violence by criminalizing straw purchasing of firearms and gun trafficking;
• Second Amendment Protections for Veterans;
• Require the Department of Justice to explain to Congress why it has or has not been prosecuting gun cases;
• Place Limitations on Fast & Furious type operations by DOJ;
• Authorize FFL’s to utilize the NICS database to for voluntary background checks of employees;
• Authorize FFL’s to access the FBI’s National Crime Information Center stolen gun database to ensure that a firearm is not stolen prior to acquisition;
• Reauthorize the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) with amendments;
• Address school safety by Reauthorizes the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure our Schools Program through 2023.