WASHINGTON – The top two Democrats in Congress have asked President Donald Trump to back House-passed legislation that would expand background checks for gun purchases.
“We are writing this letter because your urgent, personal intervention is needed to stem the endless massacres of our fellow Americans by gunfire. In the month of August, 51 Americans were killed in mass shootings alone, and many others were killed in the daily tragedy of gun violence in our communities,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in a letter to Trump on Sunday.
They added: “We have a responsibility to make our schools, shopping centers, houses of worship and other public places safer. The American people are crying out for their elected representatives to stop the epidemic of murder and mayhem that is shattering families and communities across the country. You are uniquely positioned to answer their call.”
The letter was released on Monday. Schumer and Pelosi are expected to reiterate their call for a vote on stronger background checks at a news conference on Capitol Hill scheduled for this afternoon.
Trump has wavered in his support for stronger background checks for gun purchases. His support is considered a must for action on any gun safety legislation in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that the upper chamber would act if the president gives his blessing.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 passed the House 240-190 in February. It would make firearms transfers between private parties more difficult. Private transfers would for the most part be prohibited unless a background is first performed by a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer or importer. The law would not apply to transfers between spouses.
TMN asked political analysts to comment about the prospects for new gun safety legislation.
“There’s no real will to move on this issue,” former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele said.
He added: “There’s a lot of political noise and rhetoric, certainly around the unfortunate shootings that occur-but you’ve got too many forces that have a tight grip on not just the messaging, but any potential legislation to deal with this.”
Steele said even with Trump’s support passage would be difficult.
“The X factor still remains the president. He could just flip-out and go: ‘Oh, ok, we’re going to go and align with something that Nancy and Chuck have put on the table,’ or at least give some conversation to it. But that’s going to give everybody angina because they know legislatively it’s not going to go anywhere.”
Former Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, agreed.
“[President] Trump has changed his mind on strengthening background checks after talking to the NRA. It’s become clear he is unwilling to provide any leadership the issue of gun safety.”
Dorgan added: “[Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell says he will block legislation in the Senate that is not supported by the Trump Administration. Unfortunately, the result will be continued stonewalling on the gun safety issue by the President and Senate majority”.