Congressional Democrats go after Republicans on gun safety legislation

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Ahead of Congress returning to Washington next week, Democrats are pressuring their GOP colleagues to snap out of their longtime paralysis on gun violence prevention legislation. Today, the House Judiciary Committee is getting a head start by taking up three bills in the wake of the El Paso and Midland-Odessa shootings. 

The Committee will be looking at proposals around prohibiting high-capacity magazines and preventing those deemed a risk to themselves or others from accessing firearms (“red flags”) and those who have been convicted of hate crimes. 

The Democratic-controlled House, however, has already passed major gun safety legislation earlier this year. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 expands federal background checks to include private gun sales and gun shows. Another bill extends the number of days authorities have to complete a federal background check from three to 10. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has refused to allow a vote on either bill. 

“The Republican Senate must end its obstruction and finally pass the commonsense, bipartisan, House-passed gun violence prevention legislation that the country is demanding,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

Texas Rep. Sylvia Garcia fired off several tweets after the Midland-Odessa shooting on Aug. 31, including one directed at McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence. “@VP here’s an idea: You can honor the victims of today’s shooting with action,” she wrote. “Urge McConnell to allow a vote on” the background check bills passed by the House. 

McConnell has put the onus on President Trump to come up with their party’s legislative solution, if any, for gun violence. 

Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, took Gov. Greg Abbott to task, too. “Exactly how many dead Texans does it take for @GovAbbott to actually do something about the epidemic of gun violence sweeping his state? So far, no body count is too big for our governor, who seems determined to do exactly nothing.” 

Some Republicans in Texas and in Congress sound open to looking at new policy solutions to curb gun violence. But it’s too early to know if it’s again only rhetoric, given the GOP’s tight relationship with the National Rifle Association. 

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

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