Senate Dems call for hearing on universal background checks bill

Senate Dems call for hearing on universal background checks bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats called on the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to hold a hearing on universal background checks. 

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Health care moves to center stage in Democratic primary fight MORE (D-Conn.), a vociferous advocate for gun control measures, led a group of 37 Democrats in sending a letter to Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate panel, calling on him to consider legislation currently pending before the committee that would universalize background checks.

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“We know that universal background checks save lives, and we know that 97% of Americans support them. We noted with interest your statement in the press that you intended to have the Committee work on ‘red flag’ legislation and potentially also background checks, both actions we would strongly support,” the senators wrote. “We respectfully request that you hold a hearing on this critical legislation as soon as possible.” 

The cosigners of the letter are all co-sponsors of the pending Background Check Expansion Act, which Murphy first proposed in January. The House passed the legislation’s sister bill last week.

“97% of Americans agree—if you can’t pass a background check, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun. I’m proud to introduce the Background Check Expansion Act as my first bill. Voters stood up this fall and made it clear they want Congress to do more to keep our kids safe from gun violence. We need to listen to them and pass our bill to save lives,” the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement last month. 

Democrats have sought to highlight gun control as a key part of their congressional agenda as support for such measures has ticked up in recent years in the aftermath of several high-profile shootings.