The Justice Department has finished drafting legislation that would speed up the federal death penalty process for mass shooters, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told CBS News on Monday.
The measure comes less than two months after Attorney General William Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to resume capital punishment, something it hadn’t done since 2003. Barr reportedly worked with Pence’s policy team to draft the legislation, and it’ll likely be included in a White House package of gun safety proposals that go to Congress.
President Donald Trump said earlier this month that he wanted mass murderers to face the death penalty “quickly” and “decisively,” and “without years of delay.” He was reacting to shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which together left more than 30 people dead.
Meanwhile, U.S. attorneys are seeking the death penalty for the El Paso shooter on federal hate crime and weapons charges. Earlier this month, Democrats urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to push senators to vote on House-passed universal gun background checks legislation. McConnell previously refused to bring the legislation to the floor.
Trump’s stance on gun control has varied widely over the years. After saying there was a “very strong appetite” for background checks in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso shootings, he backtracked, casting doubt on their effectiveness against gun violence and instead blaming mass shootings on mental illness.
“If you look at the last four or five — going back, even five or six or seven years, for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it. So it’s a big problem. It’s a mental problem. It’s a big problem.”