Jeffries urges McCarthy to hold vote on ‘common sense’ gun reform after Nashville shooting
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is pressing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to hold a vote on “common sense gun safety legislation” following this week’s deadly shooting at a Christian school in Nashville.
“I write today to strongly urge you to immediately bring up common sense gun safety legislation for a vote upon our return to Congress,” Jeffries wrote in a letter to McCarthy on Friday.
The Democratic leader specifically called for votes on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act — which would require background checks for all firearm sales — and legislation to reinstate a ban on assault weapons. Both measures passed the Democratic-controlled House in the last Congress before stalling in the 50-50 split Senate.
President Biden has also pushed for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban in the wake of the shooting.
“The American people, regardless of political affiliation, overwhelmingly support common sense gun safety measures,” Jeffries wrote. “The House should do likewise.”
Asked Thursday if those initiatives or legislation addressing mental health are on the table, McCarthy told reporters the conference would “look at the facts.”
The push comes days after a gunman opened fire at The Covenant School in Nashville, killing three students — all nine-years-old — and three adults. The incident was the 130th mass shooting in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a statistic that Jeffries referenced in his letter.
“In the first few months of this year, there have already been 130 mass shootings and nearly 200 Americans killed. Thousands have died from other acts of gun violence since January. That is unacceptable, unconscionable and un-American,” Jeffries wrote.
The Hill reached out to McCarthy for comment.
Jeffries’ letter is unlikely to spark gun control measures in the House, which is controlled by Republicans who, broadly speaking, do not have an appetite for such legislation.
Republicans have argued that enacting stricter gun restrictions would infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Instead, they have suggested addressing mental health.
“We will look, getting all the information, is there anything we can do more,” McCarthy told reporters on Thursday when asked what his plan is to deal with mass shootings. “But I would say to the nation as a whole, that the problem that we are today it’s not just gonna be a legislation.”
“We gotta have a severe conversation here with this country. We’ve got to deal with mental illness. We’ve got to see what’s driving individuals to think you would go to innocent children, a Christian school, to shoot in, to literally write about it,” he continued. “I don’t think one piece of legislation solve this. I think a nation together, working together, solves a problem that’s much bigger than us.”
Jeffries in his letter zeroed in on comments from Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), who following the shooting in his home state this week said “we’re not gonna fix it, criminals are gonna be criminals.” He doubled down on his comments later in the week, telling NBC News “If you think Washington’s gonna fix this problem, you’re wrong.”
“They’re not gonna fix this problem; they are the problem,” he added.
The Democratic leader rejected Burchett’s sentiment.
“When asked about the shooting and what Congress could do to stop the bloodshed in our schools, a House Republican recently said, ‘We’re not going to fix it.’ That is not an acceptable response,” Jeffries wrote. “The data, facts and statistics clearly show common sense gun safety reforms save lives.”
The House and Senate passed and Biden signed a gun safety bill in June, marking the first time in almost three decades that Congress approved major legislation to combat gun violence. The legislation, in part, enhanced background checks for gun purchasers ages 18 to 21, created a federal offense for individuals who receive firearms through straw purchases or trafficking, and it clarified the definition of a federally licensed firearm dealer.
Jeffries noted last year’s legislative success but said “more needs to be done.”
“Communities across the country are frustrated and dismayed with congressional inaction. Our schools have become killing fields and our children slaughtered by weapons of war,” he wrote. “It is time for Congress to put kids over guns.”
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