The Senate majority leader didn't even bother mentioning gun violence in his first remarks after the long August recess.
At a press conference Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly refused to take any action to prevent gun violence until Trump gives him permission to do so.
"Until the White House gives us some indication of what the president is willing to sign, we're waiting," McConnell said. He mocked Democratic efforts to push the Senate to adopt the House-passed universal background check bill as "theatrics."
McConnell only commented on the issue of gun safety legislation in response to a question from a reporter. He did not bring the issue up during his Monday comments from the Senate floor, nor during his opening remarks at the Tuesday press conference. His reticence to bring up the issue prompted one Kentucky newspaper to note that he appeared to be "shift[ing] focus away from gun control."
McConnell's office did not respond to a request for comment.
McConnell's desire to avoid the topic is wildly out of touch with the overwhelming majority of the Americans who continue to support action to reduce gun violence.
According to a Tuesday NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents support ideas ranging from universal background checks on all gun sales to requiring a license to buy a gun, as well as legislation allowing law enforcement officers to temporarily remove guns from people who may be a danger to themselves or others, known as red flag laws.
The same poll shows a majority of gun owners also supported those ideas.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find something where the gap between public sentiment and legislative action or inaction is wider because you've got a clear consensus across party lines," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. "The gap is huge, and the congressional crowd is very much out of step with where public opinion is on this."
The House of Representatives passed gun safety legislation almost 200 days ago, but thus far, McConnell has refused to even allow a Senate vote on the measures. One of the bills passed by the House would have closed a loophole used by the Midland-Odessa mass shooter to obtain his assault-style weapon, which he used to kill eight people last month.
Instead of doing anything about the issue, McConnell opts to wait.
"Mitch McConnell’s refusal to even broach gun safety abdicates our responsibility to keep people safe," said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), in an email to Shareblue on Tuesday. Swalwell has been a strong proponent of gun reform and based his now-abandoned 2020 presidential bid on the issue.
"More people will senselessly die," he added, "because Senator McConnell continues to put the priorities of the NRA over our right to live."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.