The House is set to vote this week on a package of gun-related bills dubbed the "Protect Our Kids Act."
GOP leaders told members to vote against the package, calling it the "Unconstitutional Gun Restrictions Act."
The notice sent to GOP offices included links to talking points from the NRA and Gun Owners of America.
House Republicans are poised to vote against eight bills aimed at preventing gun violence this week, in part due to opposition from powerful pro-gun groups on the right.
House Democratic leaders have scheduled votes for Wednesday evening on the "Protecting Our Kids Act" — a package of seven gun violence-related measures that includes raising the age for legal purchase of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns to 21, closing the "bump stock" loophole, and other measures aimed at preventing the illegal trafficking of guns.
The House will also vote Thursday on the "Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act," a federal "red flag" bill that would allow family members and law enforcement officials to temporarily block firearm access to those who a court determines pose a danger to themselves or others.
In a "whip notice" sent to rank-and-file members on Tuesday afternoon, House GOP leadership urged a "no" vote on all eight bills, referring to the seven-bill package as the "Unconstitutional Gun Restrictions Act." They wrote that House Democrats had "thrown together this reactionary package comprised of legislation that egregiously violates law-abiding citizens' 2nd Amendment rights and hinders Americans' ability to defend and protect themselves and their families."
The email also noted the opposition of the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, including links to talking points from the NRA about both the gun package and the red flag law. Leaders also noted the opposition of Heritage Action for America, an advocacy group tied to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
"Due to the importance of this issue, votes on this legislation will be considered in future candidate ratings and endorsements by the NRA Political Victory Fund," declares one of the memos shared by party leaders.
It's not uncommon for party leaders to note the opposition of outside groups to major pieces of legislation. For example, in a February whip notice urging Republicans to vote against a major piece of legislation aimed at boosting the US semiconductor industry, GOP leaders noted the opposition of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, National Taxpayers Union, and Americans for Prosperity.
But the two gun groups' inclusion — and the NRA's threat to downgrade candidate ratings or withhold endorsements should any Republicans back the measures — underscores the enduring influence of pro-second amendment groups on the right, despite the NRA's recent financial troubles and shrinking membership.
Meanwhile, Democrats are planning to stage a striking visual contrast to Republicans — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her caucus members on Tuesday to be present on the House floor for debate on the gun measures on Wednesday, when the floor would otherwise be empty.
"On behalf of the survivors of gun violence, and out of respect for those who lost their lives, I am asking all Members of our Caucus to be present on the Floor of the House for the two hours of debate, which should begin at approximately 2:30 p.m. following the vote on the Rule," she said.
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