Politics & Policy

Schumer Dismisses GOP Red-Flag Bill as an ‘Ineffective Cop Out’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) speaks to the media in Washington, D.C., December 20, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday declared his opposition to the “red flag” legislation touted by a number of Senate Republicans as a potential solution to the trend of mass shootings.

“The notion that passing a tepid version of an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill—alone—is even close to getting the job done in addressing rampant gun violence in the U.S. is wrong and would be an ineffective cop out,” Schumer said in a statement.

In the wake of a pair of mass shootings that together claimed 31 lives over the weekend, a number of Senate Republicans — including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rob Portman of Ohio — have advocated legislation empowering the police to temporarily confiscate weapons from people who are reported as a threat by friends or family members. They have also discussed the possibility of providing federal grants to states to implement the legislation.

Democrats, meanwhile, have continued to champion universal-background-check legislation as the most effective means of preventing mass shootings.

“Even the strongest [red-flag] legislation won’t be fully effective without strong universal background checks. As long as the gun show and online sales loopholes exist, someone prohibited from possessing a gun under an ERPO law could still purchase a firearm far too easily,” Schumer said in the statement.

The Democrat-controlled House passed a universal-background-check bill earlier this year with the support of just eight Republicans. A companion bill in the Senate has yet to receive backing from any Republicans, and the White House has threatened to veto it should it gain more support. In his Wednesday statement, Schumer said Senate Democrats would work to force a vote on it nonetheless.

“Democrats in the Senate will seek to require that any ERPO bill that comes to the floor is accompanied by a vote on the House-passed universal background checks legislation,” he said.

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