Democratic leaders demand McConnell address gun violence after 194 days of inaction


Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer are demanding that the GOP 'stem the endless massacres of our fellow Americans by gunfire.'

The Democratic leaders in the House and Senate demanded Trump stop dragging his feet and take action to reduce gun violence, according to a Sunday letter.

"The time for you to act is now, before more lives are lost," Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to Trump. "The American people are crying out for their elected representatives to stop the epidemic of murder and mayhem that is shattering families and communities across the country.  You are uniquely positioned to answer their call."

The letter was sent one day before Congress is set to return from their August vacation, and 193 days after the House passed a bill requiring universal background checks on all gun sales. Such legislation could help "stem the endless massacres of our fellow Americans by gunfire."

"You now have a historic opportunity to save lives simply by indicating your support for H.R. 8, the House-passed universal bipartisan background check legislation currently being blocked by Leader McConnell and the Republican majority in the Senate," the letter adds. The House passed the bill in February.

After the early-August mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Trump indicated his support for background checks. He flip-flopped after he had conversations with the NRA, backing away from his support of potentially lifesaving legislation at the behest of a major political donor opposed to gun safety laws.

McConnell has used his perch in the Senate to block a vote on the background check bill for almost 200 days. During that time, a background check law might have prevented the late-August mass shooting in Texas cities Midland and Odessa, where the shooter used a loophole in the current law to purchase an assault-style rifle.

Poll after poll after poll shows the overwhelming majority of Americans support commonsense gun safety laws. In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 89% of Americans support universal background checks, including 83% of Republicans. Those results mirror a recent Fox News poll showing a similar level of support for background checks, including among 93% of gun owners. A new poll by the gun safety group Everytown found 94% of voters in battleground states support background checks.

Yet McConnell still refuses to act, drawing the ire of gun safety groups.

"As Senators come back to Washington, they need to know what the public wants on gun safety — and this poll makes it clear they want action," John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement about the group's poll. "Voters across the country — and across political parties — are demanding stronger gun laws, and they won't settle for ineffective half measures."

On Monday afternoon, Pelosi, Schumer, and other Democratic leaders are holding a press conference to demand McConnell take action to stem the epidemic of gun violence and finally pass H.R. 8. Thus far, McConnell has refused to take any action without Trump's explicit blessing.

"Throughout August we kept the pressure on President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to make sure they couldn't run out the clock and ignore H.R. 8," Katherine Phillips, federal affairs manager for Giffords, a pro-gun safety group, told Shareblue Media.

"Now, it's time for them to make a choice. They can either push for passage of this critical gun safety bill that can save lives. Or they can stay in the pocket of NRA lobbyists that have blocked progress for decades," she added. "The country is watching."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.