In the wake of the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the Senate’s top Democrat is calling on Americans to cast their ballots in November’s midterm elections for candidates who fit their values on gun reform. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hopes to pass gun reform by that time but doubts Republicans will support those measures.
“Americans can make a choice. Americans can reject the Republican guns-at-all-cost doctrine, obeisance to the NRA, not even voting for the most simple, sensitive and popular gun legislation,” Schumer said during a speech on the Senate floor.
Calls for gun reform are growing after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde Tuesday, 10 days after a gunman killed 10 people in a racist attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
“But I’m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
The House has passed bills that would create universal background checks and halt the finalization of gun sales until background checks are complete in order to address something known as the “Charleston loophole.” However, the bills have not been approved by the Senate where 60 votes are required to end debate.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., authored a bipartisan background-check bill that failed in the Senate multiple times, including after the Sandy Hook massacre and Orlando Pulse Nightclub shootings. Manchin said he would support gun reform now but not at the expense of eliminating the filibuster.
“It just makes no sense at all why we can’t do commonsense — commonsense things — and try to prevent some of this from happening,” Manchin said.
A bipartisan bill would get some Republicans’ support. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she voted for the Manchin bill in the past and would do it again. But it’s unclear if it would get 10 Republicans needed to get 60 votes.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz expressed opposition to any measure he says would restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.
“That doesn’t work. It’s not effective, it doesn’t prevent crime. We know what does prevent crime, which is going after felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness,” Cruz said.
President Joe Biden addressed the nation after he returned from an overseas trip to Asia. He supports renewing the assault weapons ban he helped pass as a senator in the 1990s.
“I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage,” President Biden said.
Former President Donald Trump and Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott are set to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston over Memorial Day weekend. They and other Republicans have called for increased security at schools, and arming and training teachers.
The AP contributed to this report.