Mayors urge Senate to return for gun bill vote; Bliss included

LOUISVILLE, KY - AUGUST 06: An activist holds a sign while demonstrating outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on August 6, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP/FOX 17) — More than 200 mayors, including two anguished by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, are urging the Senate to return to the Capitol to act on gun safety legislation amid criticism that Congress is failing to respond to back-to-back shootings that left 31 people dead.

In a letter Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, the mayors wrote, “Our nation can no longer wait for our federal government to take the actions necessary to prevent people who should not have access to firearms from being able to purchase them.”

The mayors urged the Senate to vote on two House-passed bills expanding background checks for gun sales that passed that chamber earlier this year. It was signed by El Paso, Texas, Mayor Dee Margo, Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley and others where mass shootings have occurred, including Orlando and Parkland, Florida, Pittsburgh and Annapolis, Maryland.

“There is no worse thing that can happen to a city,” Whaley said of the weekend shooting that killed nine people in Dayton. “We cannot allow this tragic event to fade from our memories without taking action. Politics has stood in the way of action for too long, and I can tell you politics seems very petty when it is your friends and neighbors who are injured or dead.”

The push comes as McConnell, the Republican leader, resists pressure to recall senators from the congressional recess, despite wrenching calls to “do something” in the aftermath of the shootings.

Instead, the Republican leader is taking a more measured approach, as GOP senators talk frequently among themselves and with the White House in the face of mounting criticism that Congress is failing to act.

President Donald Trump is privately calling up senators while publicly pushing for an expansion of background checks for firearms purchases, but McConnell knows those ideas have little Republican support. In fact, the White House threatened to veto a House-passed background checks bill earlier this year. Yet, as the nation reels from the frequency of shootings and their grave toll, McConnell’s unwillingness to confront the gun lobby or move more swiftly is coming under scrutiny.

“I can only do what I can do,” the president told reporters Wednesday as he departed Washington for visits to El Paso and Dayton to comfort victims and families and to praise first responders.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown made a personal plea to Trump during his visit to “call on Sen. McConnell to bring the Senate back in session this week, to tell the Senate he wants the background checks bill that has already passed the House.”

The politics of gun violence are difficult for Republicans, including McConnell, who would risk losing support as he seeks reelection in Kentucky if he backed restricting access to firearms and ammunition. Other Republicans, including those in Colorado, Maine and swing states, also would face difficult votes, despite the clamor for some changes to gun laws.

“In Congress, we’re trying to come up with some answers,” Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn, who is also up for reelection, said after donating blood in El Paso.

In Kentucky, where McConnell is recuperating from a shoulder fracture sustained in a weekend fall, activists have been demonstrating at his home and protesting at his downtown Louisville office.

In the meantime, Trump continues to say there’s “great appetite” for background checks legislation.

But that is not the case, for now.

Instead, Republicans are trying to build support for more modest measures, including so-called red-flag bills from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that would allow friends and family members to petition authorities to keep guns away from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. But those efforts are also running into trouble from conservatives, who worry about due process and infringing on gun owners’ rights.

GOP senators are also considering changes to the existing federal background checks system, modeled on the so-called “fix-NICS” law signed last year that improved the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, as well as strengthening penalties for hate crimes.

While many of those proposals have bipartisan support, Democrats are unlikely to agree to them without consideration of the more substantive background checks bill.

“We Democrats are not going to settle for half-measures so Republicans can feel better and try to push the issue of gun violence off to the side,” Schumer said Wednesday.

Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who, along with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is pushing a bill to expand background checks, said Trump’s support will be the determining factor in whatever gets done.

“At this point in time leadership comes from President Trump,” Manchin said.

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  • Hopcat

    Shootings have been pretty steady in Chicago the last few years and now they want to take action. I guess whatever fits your agenda. This countries politicians are a disgrace. Not all but 90%.

  • Kevin Rahe

    And today we have a mass murder by knife in California. Should we do background checks for people buying those, too?

    None of the measures proposed is likely to succeed in stopping more than maybe 10% of these tragedies. The only way to really impact them is to restore a value for human life and teach our kids that there is right and wrong. But that’s going to take some time and I fear that many of our politicians and judges don’t have the stomach for what needs to be done.

  • Germaine

    Might as well pass laws restricting cars, trucks, baseball bats, knives…….they all can be used as assault weapons too.

  • Cthulhu247

    So how is congress going to make bad guys stop killing people? Since when do bad guys care about any laws? Just saying you can pass whatever laws you want, it won’t stop bad people from doing bad things. Violent thugs bent on killing will find a way to do it. Be it with a gun, a car, an IED, a knife, and the list goes on. We live in a society which wants instant gratification and a scapegoat to pin hatred on, not long term solutions. Neither side of the aisle wants to own up to the hate they’ve been spreading across our country and produce a viable way to unify the country. Politicians just want a herd of scapegoats to parade around to advance their careers. This accomplishes nothing but to divide our country further. I hope Americans wake up to this fact but I’m not holding my breath.

  • J.B.

    Most of these “Mayors” cant even run their own darn city’s competently.
    But their politically motivated “feelings” are supposed to be important nationally i guess.

    • lml25

      Completely agree with the previous three posters,you need a sweep of known thugs houses–get their guns and drugs.Felons who have guns is ILLEGAL.Finding them with drugs is a bonus–and would be extra prison time.But that’s called ” bothering bl**ks living their lives” LOL –we can’t do that.There should be a way to do that,IF you’re going to permit thugs with long rap sheets,to live amongst us.

  • Rj

    When are the residents of GR going to stop electing progressive mayors? We don’t have a gun problem we have a people problem. 1659 shot and 280 killed in Chicago so far this year. Where is the outrage ? A gun can not and will never fly around shooting people and no matter what people say there are many things that contribute to this and most of it is plain to see. Almost all who flip and kill like this have proven that liberalism is a mental disorder and their leaders promote them, Cops killed in Dallas all the way to congressmen Being shot playing ball. Is it a coincidence the El Paso shooter was an Antifa sympathizers or member and traveled to El Paso where Antifa is scheduled to hold a massive demonstration ? Unlikely

  • Rj

    The progressive Mayor needs to be asked if the city of GR is involved in the promise program that is responsible for the parkland Florida shooting.

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