Mitch McConnell says gun control measures will be discussed by Senate after recess
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not calling the Senate back to Washington for an emergency session to address recent mass shootings, but gun control measures will be on the table when Congress reconvenes in September, he said in an interview with Louisville radio station WHAS Thursday.
McConnell specifically mentioned background checks, a measure that has failed to gain much ground in the Senate and is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association.
In a tweet on Friday morning, President Trump confirmed that congressional leaders were holding "serious discussions" regarding background checks.
"Serious discussions are taking place between House and Senate leadership on meaningful Background Checks. I have also been speaking to the NRA, and others, so that their very strong views can be fully represented and respected," Mr. Trump said in the first of two tweets.
"Guns should not be placed in the hands of ... mentally ill or deranged people. I am the biggest Second Amendment person there is, but we all must work together for the good and safety of our Country. Common sense things can be done that are good for everyone!" the president continued.
House and Senate Democrats have been calling on McConnell to reconvene the Senate after two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio killed 31 people over the weekend.
Over 200 House Democrats sent a letter to McConnell Wednesday urging him to call the Senate back to Washington in order to pass a measure implementing universal background checks. That bill, H.R. 8, was passed by the House in February.
On Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to Mr. Trump to urge him to call the Senate into session, which the executive branch has the power to do.
"It is with deep sadness and great urgency that I write following the horrific loss of life that occurred in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton and Chicago, after which you said, 'I think background checks are important. I don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable or people with rage or hate, sick people. I'm all in favor of it,'" Pelosi wrote, quoting Mr. Trump.
"Mr. President, we have an opportunity to work in a bipartisan way to pass gun violence prevention background checks. However, Leader Mitch McConnell, describing himself as the 'grim reaper,' has been an obstacle to taking any action," Pelosi wrote.
Mr. Trump has expressed openness to legislation that would implement universal background checks, and he has been discussing the issue with lawmakers. He also had a phone conversation Wednesday with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and GOP Rep. Peter King, both from New York, spoke in support of the bipartisan universal background check legislation Tuesday morning.
"We're saying to Mitch McConnell: do the right thing," Schumer said.
"I believe it's essential that Senator McConnell allows it to come to a vote. He doesn't have to support it," King said. "It's common sense legislation."
Later on Thursday, Pelosi and Schumer said the president told them he would review House-passed bill legislation that expands federal background checks.
The Democratic-controlled House passed H.R. 8 in February in a 240-190 vote, with eight Republicans and all but two Democrats supporting it. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson, Democrat from California, would only allow person-to-person gun sales if a background check can be conducted. This would close loopholes for certain kinds of gun sales — such as those at gun shows, over the internet or from private dealers — that are currently completed without background checks, potentially putting guns in the hands of people who would otherwise be prohibited from owning them.
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