Dems push to revive failed gun control legislation
Gun control advocates in Congress are looking to revive failed legislation strengthening background check regulations.
A handful of Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday they plan to push once again for universal background checks on all gun sales in the new Congress, even though they recognize it will be an uphill battle with Republicans taking majority control.
Background check legislation failed to gain traction in the outgoing Congress despite a string of high-profile school shootings that gun control advocates had hoped would turn the political tide in their favor. They say it’s only a matter of time.
“When you don’t pass background checks, it’s just much more likely that someone will get their hands on an illegal gun and use it to kill their neighbors or their classmates,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will join the call for expanded background checks at an event on Wednesday.
The lawmakers are also pushing for legislation to keep guns out of the hands of people who have been convicted of domestic violence.
The Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 26 students and teachers were killed, was nearly two years ago.
Everytown for Gun Safety released a report Tuesday that found there have been at least 95 more school shootings in which 45 people were killed since Sandy Hook.
“Ninety-five school shootings since Newtown, and what has Congress done?” Murphy asked. “Nothing.”
“Congress’s failure to act makes it, in fact, an aider and abettor to those deaths that could be prevented,” added Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
Murphy and Blumenthal, along with several other lawmakers, called for a renewed push to require background checks for all gun sales, including private sales at gun shows.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) called for Republicans to join efforts to expand background checks for all gun sales.
“This should not be a partisan issue,” Esty said. “Protecting lives has no ‘D’ for Democrat or ‘R’ for Republican.”
The gun lobby has suggested that expanding background checks will only keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, because criminals will go around the law.
But Democrats disagree.
“Background checks won’t stop everyone, but it’s our first line of defense,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), chairman of the House gun violence prevention task force. “We need to expand it, we need to do it now.”
In the outgoing Congress, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) introduced background check legislation that would have done as much, but the bill failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Furthermore, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) failed to gain traction on a similar piece of gun control legislation that would keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.
With Republicans taking over in the new Congress, Murphy realizes gun control legislation is a long shot.
“We know the chances of passing this legislation became a little bit less likely given November’s results, but we are not going to cease fighting until we remove the stain of Congress’s inaction from this town,” Murphy said.