There’s already been a lot of talk among Virginia’s elected officials about how the Republicans in the General Assembly refused to have any legitimate discussion on legislation to curb gun violence, but leaders are now highlighting the lack of action on the federal level as well. In a joint statement made after President Donald Trump’s remarks this morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer went after both Trump and majority leader Mitch McConnell’s failure to properly address the prevalence of gun violence in our country.
Shortly after the 2018 elections put Democrats back in control of the chamber, the House of Representatives passed the Background Checks Act of 2019 back in February. The legislation, which had bipartisan support and is supported by 90 percent of the public, requires universal background checks for people seeking to purchase firearms. Even though McConnell’s been eager to ram some of Trump’s judicial nominees through the Senate as quickly as possible, he’s refused to even allow a simple up or down vote on the measure in the almost six months after it was passed by the House.
This wasn’t lost on Schumer and Pelosi and they called upon McConnell and the Republican led Senate to act.
“Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called himself the ‘grim reaper’ and refuses to act on this bipartisan legislation,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement. “It is incumbent upon the Senate to come back into session to pass this legislation immediately.”
“It took less than three hours for the President to back off his call for stronger background check legislation,” they added making sure folks understand Trump’s responsible for the lack of movement as well. “When he can’t talk about guns when he talks about gun violence, it shows the President remains prisoner to the gun lobby and the NRA.”
After the shootings this weekend, most people want some sort of action in Congress to happen quickly before the media stops paying attention and turns to the next hot story. With the Senate beginning a summer recess last week that isn’t scheduled to end until September 9, however, it’s somewhat easier for Senators to avoid addressing the issue. That being said, Schumer and Pelosi aren’t the only ones calling for McConnell to end the recess early and have senators come back to DC. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who represents Ohio which was the site of one of this weekend’s shootings, called for the an end to the recess and even Republican Sen. Tim Scott said he’d be willing to go back to Washington in order to have a discussion on gun violence issues. The Senate already have a bill to consider, so they could still have time to interact with their constituents back home on other issues by swiftly taking action on the bill.
As far as President Trump goes, he’s still refusing to take any real leadership on the issue and is instead passing the blame onto video games, people with mental health issues, and the mainstream media. In a tweet sent out early this morning, he actually said “news coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!” According to the president, it isn’t his insistence that Mexican immigrants are “rapists” and criminals or campaign ads referencing an “invasion” by immigrants that are troublesome, but it’s “fake news [that’s] contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.”
Of course, this blatantly ignores how the shooter in El Paso published an anti-immigrant manifesto on a website frequented by white supremacists shortly before the shooting. He also had a history of being an active Trump supporter who is just one of many white supremacists that have felt empowered to share their bigoted views after hearing the hateful rhetoric and policies the president promotes.
While many people are justifiably concerned about the mass shootings this past weekend, history has shown how the general public generally moves on and the media no longer covers the issue of ending gun violence….until the next mass shooting takes place and the cycle starts all over again. We simply cannot sit back to allow this to repeatedly happen and our elected officials must move forward with a productive discussion and pass meaningful reforms. Having the Senate come back from summer break to pass the universal background check legislation would be a great way to start that progress.