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 SchumerSaagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? Johnson eyes Irish border in Brexit negotiations Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday unveiled his caucus' three-part gun control plan and urged President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president 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.

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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 RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China 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 GillibrandSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Sanders unveils plan to double union membership in first term The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden expands lead in new national poll MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 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 group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump 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.