Washington – After President Donald Trump told lawmakers to pass a comprehensive gun bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wasted no time in rolling out the outlines of a Senate Democratic bill.
Schumer said Democrats will push for tighter background checks and new protective orders, modeled after a program that Connecticut has had in place since 1999, to disarm dangerous individuals in response to the recent shooting in a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 people dead.
He also called for a Senate floor debate on banning semi-automatic, assault-style weapons.
“Not every Democrat will agree with every piece, but my caucus is prepared to provide a large number of votes to get these passed,” Schumer said at a press conference.
In a televised, hour-long meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, Trump asked a group of senators, including Sen. Chris Murphy, to draft a bipartisan “comprehensive” gun bill.
“It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everyone could support,” Trump said. “It’s time that a president stepped up.”
Less than 24 hours later, Schumer put the Democrats’ proposal on the table, which he said Democratic senators had been working on for several days.
Schumer said that, at a minimum, federal background checks of gun purchasers should be expanded to sales by individuals at gun shows and online.
Trump said he wanted a “very strong” background check component in a new gun bill. But a background check bill introduced after the Sandy Hook shootings in December of 2012 failed to garner the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, and the U.S. House has failed to consider the legislation, and all other gun bills introduced after the Newtown shooting.
Schumer also said Democrats will push for legislation that prods states to adopt “red flag” laws like the one Connecticut implemented in 1999. These laws allow law enforcement, and in some states family members, to seek court orders that temporarily disarm individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.
Left open is whether the Democratic bill would include an assault weapons ban similar to the one Connecticut implemented after the Newtown shooting.
“Not every member of the caucus would support that, but a majority would,” Schumer said.
The Democratic leader said this is “the best chance that we have had in a decade” to pass a new gun law.
“Hope springs eternal,” Schumer said.
But like other Democrats, including Murphy, Schumer said there’s no chance of tightening federal gun regulations unless Trump prods congressional Republicans to support it and “frankly give them cover from the National Rifle Association.”
“The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is when the NRA starts coming after you, will you resist?” Schumer said.
Caught off guard by the president’s remarks during the free-wheeling “listening session” on Thursday, the NRA immediately ramped up their lobbying against measures it says would damage the Second Amendment and do little to protect people against gun violence.