RNA - Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday they will gather Monday to urge McConnell to get behind legislation already passed by the House but blocked in the Senate, to expand background checks to nearly all gun buyers.
McConnell said he would not bring a gun bill to the floor of the Republican-majority Senate unless it had the support of Trump, who has not provided details of measures he might support to tackle gun violence.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives in February passed legislation to expand background checks on gun buyers. While the bill was touted as being bipartisan, only eight House Republicans backed it, with 188 voting no.
This is one measure Democrats are urging McConnell to bring to the floor of the Senate for a vote.
The two Democrats also sent a joint letter to the president, urging him to defy the National Rifle Association (NRA) and tell him that his “urgent, personal intervention is needed to stem the endless massacres of our fellow Americans by gunfire” and that he had a “historic opportunity to save lives.”
“We implore you to seize this moment when your leadership and influence over Republicans in Congress on the issue of guns is so critical,” they wrote in the letter. “Please do not squander it by acceding to NRA-backed proposals or other weak ideas that will do nothing to stop the continuing, horrific spread of gun violence and may, in some cases, actually make our communities less safe.”
Previous attempts to pass gun controls after mass shootings, have mostly failed in the face of fierce lobbying by the NRA and other gun groups.
The letter comes as the debate over gun control, one of the most heated and uncompromising issues in US politics, is shfting rapidly in Washington as more Americans get killed in mass shootings, which the FBI defines as three or more fatalities in a single episode.
In August alone, 53 people in the United States died in mass killings by firearms.
The NRA has consistently opposed gun control efforts and financially supported politicians who oppose them as well. The gun-rights group spent $54 million during the 2016 presidential election, including $30 million to help Trump get elected president.
Following a series of mass shootings in August that took 36 lives, Trump said he favored action, possibly on tackling mental health issues related to the violence or expanded background checks.
The White House has yet to outline any specific proposals, but administration officials said the measures might include expediting the death penalty for mass shooters.
A study by Harvard University researchers published in 2017 found that 22% of current gun owners who acquired a firearm in the previous two years reported doing so without a background check.
Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates have been floating their own remedies for mass shootings.
According to Amnesty International, an average of 106 individuals died a day from firearm-related incidents in 2016, totaling 38,658. Of that figure, nearly 23,000 were suicides and more than 14,400 were homicides.