Sherrod Brown urges lawmakers to break from gun lobby following mass shootings

Brown calls for assault weapons ban

Last Updated Aug 4, 2019 3:30 PM EDT

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio urged his fellow lawmakers in Congress to break with the nation's powerful gun lobby and pass legislation designed to curb gun violence, a problem that has again drawn national attention after two mass shootings killed nearly 30 people in less than 24 hours.

Citing the weekend massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Brown said the Senate needs to scrap its recess and reconvene to pass bills to expand background checks for gun transactions and ban certain assault weapons.

In February, the Democratic-controlled House approved a bill requiring background checks be performed on all gun sales, including at gun shows. A companion bill, also passed by the House, would allow for more time for sellers to receive background checks on potential customers.

A ban on assault weapons was introduced in January but has not been voted on in either the House or the Senate. A prior ban, which was enacted in 1994, expired in 2004.

"We can fly back into Washington on Monday morning. We could pass the background check bill and people could fly back and be home for dinner. And the president needs to sign this bill," the Ohio Democrat said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "We know what to do. We know that background checks worked. We know that a ban on assault weapons worked. It was bipartisan and it expired and we haven't renewed it."

He said those two legislative projects would, if enacted, "finally put the country on the right path on gun violence."

"Then we figure other things out, but that's where we start tomorrow and do it quickly and show the country for gosh sakes that the people representing them in Washington don't always kowtow to the gun lobby," he added.

Two mass shootings over the weekend reignited the highly divisive debate about guns and measures to regulate them.

In El Paso, a gunman killed at least 20 people and injured more than two dozen others inside a Walmart. The massacre carried out by the 21-year-old suspect, who was apprehended by authorities, is being treated as an act of domestic terrorism and a potential hate crime by federal law enforcement. Investigators are probing a racist, anti-immigrant document allegedly authored by the suspect.

The shooting in Dayton, in western Ohio, left nine dead in addition to the gunman, identified by authorities as a 24-year-old white man. Nearly 30 people were also injured in the shooting rampage.

Brown said these tragedies should spur lawmakers to take bold action, noting that he has been able to win elections in Ohio, a state that has been trending Republican in recent years, despite having an "F" rating from the National Rifle Association.

"I know you can win elections. You can stand up against the gun lobby and win elections," he said.