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Schumer Says Pushing GOP on Gun Control Will Be Top Dem Priority

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., speaks after a Democratic policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 29, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that pushing Republicans to move forward on gun control legislation will be a top priority for Democrats when Congress comes back after the summer.

Democrats will pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring up legislation already passed by the House requiring universal background checks for firearms purchases, despite no Republican senators supporting it.

“President Trump and Senate Republicans have failed to act on the issue of gun violence, bowing repeatedly to the NRA and the hard right by choosing inaction or half-measures over real, meaningful legislation,” Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats. “Comprehensive, evidence-based solutions, like updating our laws to require background checks for all gun sales, must be a part of any congressional action to curb gun violence.”

Some Republicans have supported expanding background checks to commercial sales, but the GOP has mostly thrown its weight behind measures such as red-flag laws, which would encourage identifying early warning signs in dangerous individuals and then taking action, such as confiscating their firearms.

“Senate Democrats must work to increase pressure on Leader McConnell to stop burying bills he doesn’t like in his graveyard and to get the Senate working again by actually debating and voting on legislation to address our nation’s greatest challenges,” Schumer said.

Democrats’ fresh enthusiasm for tighter gun regulations comes after two back to back mass shootings last month. A 21-year-old gunman opened fire August 3 on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 20 people and injuring 26 others. Less than 24 hours later, another young male shooter used an assault-style rifle to kill nine people, including his own sister, and injure 27 in a Dayton, Ohio entertainment district.

After the shootings, President Trump called for “meaningful background checks” on gun purchases, but he has since backed away from this proposal in favor of policies focusing on mental health.

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