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Mayors join call for Senate to return for vote on gun bill

Mayors join call for Senate to return for vote on gun bill
© Greg Nash

More than 200 U.S. mayors are calling for the Senate to return from its August recess to take up two House-passed gun control bills in the wake of two deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. 

“The tragic events in El Paso and Dayton this weekend are just the latest reminders that 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 214 mayors wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' On The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.).

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Among the signatories are El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, as well as the leaders of other cities that have experienced mass shootings including Orlando and Parkland, Fla.; Pittsburgh; and Annapolis, Md.

Among other provisions, the two House bills, which passed in February, would impose universal background checks and lengthen the amount of time a gun seller has to wait for an FBI background check to clear from three days to 10 days.

“H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 are bipartisan, sensible gun safety bills that would make our cities and our people safer, and would in no way compromise gun owners’ rights,” the mayors wrote. “Quick passage of these bills is a critical step to reducing gun violence in our country.”

“The United States Conference of Mayors stands ready to work with Congress, the Administration and others to develop holistic remedies to the scourge of gun violence,” they added. “We look forward to working with you to find a way forward to protect our citizens from this senseless carnage.”

The letter comes as Democrats mount pressure on McConnell to reconvene the Senate and consider the two bills. However, he’s refused to do so, warning that “partisan theatrics” wouldn’t result in Congress passing a bill.

“Only serious, bipartisan, bicameral efforts will enable us to continue this important work and produce further legislation that can pass the Senate, pass the House and earn the president’s signature. Partisan theatrics and campaign-trail rhetoric will only take us farther away from the progress all Americans deserve,” McConnell said this week.

However, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE Wednesday threw his support behind expanding background checks, saying he’s “all in favor of it.” 

Despite the president’s remarks, Senate Republicans appear to be eyeing so-called red flag legislation, such as that Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill GOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight Republican frustration builds over Cabinet picks MORE (R-S.C.) plans to introduce, that would seek to make it easier for law enforcement to identify mentally ill people who may pose a danger to themselves or others and should be banned from purchasing or owning guns.

Schumer, however, has cast the focus on such legislation as “an ineffective cop out” saying, “Even the strongest [extreme risk protection order] legislation won’t be fully effective without strong universal background checks.”