House Dems urge McConnell to convene Senate to take up gun bills

Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Antonio Delgado joined nearly all of their fellow House Democrats in signing a letter that urges Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to summon senators back from their August recess to pass two gun-control bills in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings.

The bills would lengthen the potential time for criminal background checks to be done on gun buyers before a gun is sold, and would require that a dealer do a background check before two people can transfer a gun. The Democratic-led House passed both measures in February, largely along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition. The Republican-led Senate hasn’t taken up the bills, known as the Enhanced Background Checks Act and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act.

Some 214 House Democrats signed a letter on Wednesday urging McConnell to call the Senate back into session to approve the bills. “We know background checks save lives,” the letter read. “Every day background checks stop more than 170 felons and 50 domestic abusers from getting a gun.”

“Gun violence in our country is an epidemic and bold solutions are long overdue,” Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat and member of the House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said in a press release about the letter on Thursday. “I’m calling on Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to find the courage to do what’s right and immediately pass our bipartisan background check bills. Anything less is negligence.”

McConnell recently signaled a new openness to gun-control measures, saying that background checks and red-flag laws would be “front and center” when senators return to Washington. He did not indicate he would cut short their recess.

A pending bill by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida would offer grants to help states implement red-flag laws, which allow courts to issue extreme risk protection orders to confiscate firearms from someone who has been shown in court to pose a risk to themselves or others.

New York became the 17th state to enact a red-flag law earlier this year. Despite bipartisan interest in such measures in Washington in the wake of the recent massacres, the voting in Albany in January split along party lines. Supporters included all five Democrats representing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties: Sens. Jen Metzger and James Skoufis, and Assembly members Aileen Gunther, Jonathan Jacobson and Kevin Cahill.

All five Republicans from those counties voted against the red-flag law: Sens. George Amedore and James Seward, and Assembly members Karl Brabenec, Colin Schmitt and Brian Miller.

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