Progressive senators on Sunday said they would welcome an opportunity to return to Washington, D.C. in the midst of Congress’s August recess, in order to vote on gun control reform following two mass shootings in the course of a day.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell call the Senate back into session to vote on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112, the background check bills passed by the Democratic-led House in February. The bills would require background checks on all firearm sales across the country, and strengthen existing checks.
“The House of Representatives has passed background check legislation,” Brown told Jake Tapper on CNN. “The Senate could meet tomorrow. I hope that Sen. McConnell would bring the Senate back tomorrow and pass the background check bill and send it to the president and the president must sign it. Period.”
Police and federal investigators on Sunday were still examining how the accused shooters in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio obtained the military-style semi-automatic weapons they allegedly used to kill a total of 29 people, and whether background checks were involved.
But Sanders argued that universal background checks, which have the support of 90 percent of the public, would be “a first step to addressing our serious gun violence epidemic” and preventing another mass shooting.
The three-day loophole allowed the shooter who killed nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, to obtain his weapon. The Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and an attack at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas also could have been prevented with a stronger background check system, experts say.
McConnell offered “prayers” on Twitter after Saturday’s shooting in El Paso. Shortly after he posted the message, the weekend’s second shooting took place in Dayton.
In response, critics shared their disgust with the Senate leader.
“Keep tweeting platitudes,” wrote journalist Brian Tyler Cohen “This is on you.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined Sanders and Brown in the call for McConnell to reconvene lawmakers to pass background check legislation on Monday.
“The House passed HR8, a Bipartisan Background Checks Act, five months ago and the Senate has yet to vote on it,” she wrote. “You’ve been sitting on it since February giving bogus excuses. Care to explain the people why?”