Saturday, 21 September, 2019

Top GOP senator says Trump needs to 'step up' in gun debate

Schumer Slams McConnell For Blocking Gun Control Pelosi, Schumer urge Trump to support background checks
Deanna Wagner | 10 September, 2019, 20:29

Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in a letter to Trump released Monday urged the president to intervene and take the lead on gun violence legislation.

He said this during a press conference in which he announced that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to Trump regarding gun control.

Almost 60 percent said stricter gun control legislation would help to stop the mass shootings that they've come to fear. Pelosi and Whaley were joined by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown of OH and Debbie Stabenow of MI.

The bipartisan proposal known as H.R.8 would expand background checks to cover private firearm sales.

But Trump has flip-flopped on guns, first suggesting he'd be open to background checks legislation or other measures to try to stem gun violence, only to backtrack after speaking to the National Rifle Association and others in the gun lobby. The Senate leader is trying to avoid a politically uncomfortable situation of Republicans joining Democrats to pass bills, only to have Trump reject them.

Background checks for all gun purchases, including those that happen at gun shows and online, which have been subjected to loopholes, continue to have high support among Americans. A letter signed by 278 mayors from both parties urges Congress to act on the House-passed bill.

Whaley is among a group of mayors from across the country who traveled to Washington in an effort to pressure lawmakers to vote on the pending bill.

Republicans and the gun industry have argued that gun violence is rooted in psychological illness and that federal resources should be oriented toward treatment as a way of preventing mass shootings.

Bryan Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and the current head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said there was a "robust" discussion about gun legislation at the White House.

He said background checks and federal support for "red flag" laws were both discussed during their meeting. "I don't know of anything else that nine out of 10 Americans agree on except HR 8", referring to the House's background check bill. "It's not something that curtails their ability to own and operate a gun freely".

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Ueland and other White House officials bristle when Republicans say they are not sure what Trump would support. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday. We're dealing with Republicans. "You are uniquely positioned to answer their call".

At the same time, "we have to protect our Second Amendment very strongly and we will always do that", he added. "They can't escape that responsibility".

But guns top the Democrats' immediate to-do list.

The hundreds of mass shootings which take place each year-including three high-profile attacks in the last month-have left the majority of of US residents living in fear that they or their loved ones could be among the next victims of the violent epidemic that lawmakers refuse to address year after year. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Manchin on a bill to expand background checks, said Trump "has a real interest in doing something in this area". Several Republican senators are also now more interested but, he said, "it's hard to say how this will turn out".

With Democrats seeking to advance what they consider common-sense measures, Republicans want Trump to present a path forward.

After a cluster of mass shootings took 36 lives in August, Trump said he favoured action, possibly on tackling mental health issues related to the violence or expanded background checks.

But even though it's been more than one month since more than two dozen people were killed in separate shootings in Texas and Ohio, Senate Republicans have still not pinned down what can pass the GOP-controlled chamber and what the president will sign.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said Monday that the temporary funding bill would likely extend until "sometime in November".

Democratic Congressional Representatives Veronica Escobar of Texas and Mike Thompson of California were also in attendance. While a House-passed background checks bill stalled in the Senate, McConnell says he expects the White House to soon offer next steps.