Schumer unveils Democratic gun control plan with plea for Trump support

 Schumer unveils Democratic gun control plan with plea for Trump support
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerConscience protections for health-care providers should be standard Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise Dem super PAC launches ad defending Donnelly on taxes MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday unveiled his caucus' three-part gun control plan and urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Anti-abortion Dem wins primary fight Lipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fight MORE to "buck" the National Rifle Association (NRA) to support their effort after the Florida high school shooting.

Schumer also signaled that there may be dissent within the ranks of Democrats as he announced the "comprehensive, three-part plan."

The most controversial part of the Democratic plan outlined by Schumer is a demand that a ban on assault weapons be part of the Senate debate.

"We believe there should be a debate on assault weapons on the floor of the Senate. Not every member of our caucus will support that ban but the vast majority will," Schumer told reporters.

He made a bid for President Trump to throw his support behind such a ban, which is not endorsed by Republican Senate leaders.

"Today I am strongly urging the president to follow through on his comments yesterday by endorsing these proposals and pushing Republican leaders in Congress to once and for all buck the NRA," he said.

"If the president can get some Republicans to vote for the assault weapons ban ... we can pass it soon," Schumer said.

Though Trump appeared to suggest including the ban in the Senate's legislation during a White House meeting on Wednesday, it's unlikely that an assault weapons ban could get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.

The White House has already come out against such a ban, which is also strongly opposed by the NRA.

Democrats also want to close "loopholes" on background checks for guns sold over the internet and at gun shows.

"Not having background checks at gun shows is like checking ID's at the liquor store but not at the bar," Schumer quipped.

Democrats are also pitching "protective orders" that would allow law enforcement or family members to get a court order to block an individual deemed dangerous from getting a gun.

That measure has bipartisan support with GOP Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio: McCabe 'should've been allowed to finish through the weekend' For Tillerson, bucking Trump became a job-killer At least six dead after pedestrian bridge collapses on cars in Florida MORE (Fla.) floating a similar bill as part of a package he unveiled separately on Thursday.

The Democratic plan comes after a bipartisan group of senators met with Trump during a freewheeling meeting at the White House on Wednesday. The president urged lawmakers to craft a "beautiful" bill
that would be "powerful" on background checks, and address mental health and school safety.

Schumer acknowledged that the hourlong meeting wasn't enough to guarantee that gun control legislation, which has stalled in Congress for years, could become law.

But, he argued, Trump's support will be crucial if any bill has a chance of getting through the GOP-controlled House and Senate, where lawmakers have bristled over some of the president's remarks.

Schumer focused on Trump even though his own party has not always united behind a bill.

Assault weapon ban legislation introduced earlier this week divided the Senate Democratic caucus, where members are defending 10 seats in states won by Trump in 2016.

Just over half of Democrats supported it including Democratic Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand endorses Cuomo for reelection Coalition presses Transportation Dept. for stricter oversight of driverless cars Do Dems need someone people like to beat Trump? MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSupreme Court must agree with California and end lies spread by fake women's health centers Senate confirms Trump's border chief Do Dems need someone people like to beat Trump? MORE (Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker: 'This is the most important midterm election of our lifetime' Senate GOP: Legislation to protect Mueller not needed NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding MORE (N.J.) — all viewed as potential 2020 contenders.

Schumer said that "if the president works the room, meaning the Senate, we can get this done."

"Only a president, this president, will have the power to overcome [the NRA's] strength and finally get his Republican allies on the Hill to move to a place that embraces some common sense gun safety policies," he said.

He added that "if the president steps up to the plate, he'll deserve credit and we'll give it to him."

It remains unclear if, or when, the Senate will take up gun-related legislation or what bill they could bring up.

Schumer noted on Thursday that he has not yet spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE (R-Ky.) but appeared hopeful they would be able to come up with an agreement to allow votes.

"McConnell and I have, on these types of issues, been able to reach a modicum of agreement," he said.

Any bill will need 60 votes to pass the Senate, meaning it will have to win support from both sides of the aisle.

Republicans are lining up behind the Fix NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) Act, which enforces current law by ensuring that states and agencies provide criminal records to the NICS, while penalizing those that don't.

But Democrats, while supportive of the bill, believe it is too narrow in response to the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., shooting where 17 people were killed.