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Mitch McConnell has blocked changes to gun laws for 200 days and counting

The House passed gun safety legislation in February, and Mitch McConnell has spent every day since then blocking the bills from coming up for a vote.

By Dan Desai Martin - September 16, 2019
Mitch McConnell

As of Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spent more than 200 days blocking gun safety legislation from coming up for a vote on the Senate floor.

On February 27 and 28, the House of Representatives passed the first major gun safety legislation in a generation. First, the House passed H.R. 8, a bill requiring universal background checks on all gun sales. The next day, the House passed a bill closing the so-called “Charleston Loophole,” named in reference to the shooter at 2015’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. In that case, the shooter, who had a criminal record, was able to purchase a weapon because his background check took longer than three days. The massacre left nine people dead.

Those bills have spent 201 and 200 days, respectively, being blocked by McConnell. The lengthy delay has caused concern among many who are demanding Congress take action to prevent the epidemic of gun violence.

“100 Americans a day die from gun violence. It has been 200 days since the Senate has refused to take up these gun violence prevention bills that the majority of Americans support,” Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) said in a statement. “Every day we fail to take action we lose more mothers and fathers, more sisters and brothers, more friends and loved ones. We must do something.”

McBath has been a leading voice on gun safety legislation since she lost her son, Jordan, to gun violence in 2012.

“Two hundred days of Senate inaction means two hundred days of shootings that might have been prevented by common-sense laws,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “It’s time for President Trump and the Senate to follow the House’s lead and give voters what they’re demanding: strong legislation to address America’s gun violence crisis.”

Feinblatt is referring to recent polls showing the overwhelming majority of Americans support gun safety legislation like universal background checks.

In a Sunday press release, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement calling on McConnell to hold a vote on the twin pieces of legislation.

“With the backing of the American people, we continue to call on Senator McConnell to ‘Give Us A Vote!,'” the two wrote. “Some 20,000 have died since the House took action on February 27th.”

Some gun safety advocates have taken to Twitter to put pressure on McConnell.

“Today, 145 CEOs stood up for America and sent an open letter to the Senate demanding they #DoSomething on gun violence,” Rep. Eric Swalwell wrote in mid-September following the news of CEOs demanding action. Addressing McConnell, Swalwell added, “the ball is in your court.”

Over the summer, mass shootings devastated communities like El Paso, Dayton, Midland, and Odessa. McConnell’s reaction upon returning to the Senate after his long summer vacation was to ignore the issue, and then tell reporters that he won’t lift a finger unless he gets permission from Donald Trump to act.

Trump has repeatedly flip-flopped on the issue. In the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Trump expressed support for universal background checks. But then, the NRA reached out to him and he backtracked.

McConnell’s lack of leadership on the issue brought a sharp reply from Pelosi earlier this month when she snapped that “people are dying because Sen. McConnell hasn’t acted.” The shooter in Odessa obtained a high-powered assault rifle through a loophole in the background check law the house-passed bill would have closed.

In addition to gun safety activists, police chiefsmayors, and veterans have demanded that McConnell act.

Yet for 200 days and counting, McConnell’s only action continues to be blocking legislation that could save lives.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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