Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday he wouldn’t “settle for half measures” — a reference to red flag laws that allow for the temporary removal of firearms from those deemed a risk — if his Republican colleagues don’t also support mandatory background checks on gun purchases nationwide.
“We Democrats are not going to settle for half measures so Republicans can feel better and try to push the issue of gun violence off to the side,” Schumer said in a statement, vowing that Senate Democrats would try to ensure that any red flag legislation is “accompanied by a vote on the House-passed universal background checks legislation.”
The senator’s comments come after mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, left 31 people dead this past weekend. Many lawmakers, including several Republicans like President Donald Trump, have called for new red flag laws in the wake of the killings, which give the court system the ability to temporarily remove firearms from anyone deemed a risk to themselves or others.
Such legislation has already been passed in 17 states and Washington, D.C. But many Democrats believe red flag laws, also known as “extreme risk” laws, aren’t far-ranging enough.
“The notion that passing a tepid version of an Extreme Risk Protection Order (E.R.P.O.) bill — alone — is close to getting the job done in addressing rampant gun violence in the U.S. is wrong and would be an ineffective cop-out,” Schumer said Wednesday.
The lawmaker later also denounced his counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for his refusal to support background check legislation, tweeting simply: “No more games.”
Two bills have passed the House that would expand the criminal checks, but McConnell has so far refused to bring them forward in the Senate, and Trump has threatened to veto them.
Schumer has been urging McConnell to reconvene the Senate for an emergency session to vote on the House legislation that would expand background checks for gun-buyers. Lawmakers in the upper chamber are currently out for their annual summer recess, and no votes are scheduled until early September.
A coalition of more than 200 House Democrats sent a letter to McConnell on Wednesday reiterating that call, saying that every delay on a vote for background checks legislation “only increases the chances that more innocent people in America may suffer.”
“In February, the new Democratic House Majority took swift action to pass these bipartisan bills which not only save lives, but also has the support of more than 90 percent of the American people,” the group of lawmakers wrote. “Since that time, you have allowed more than 150 days to pass and countless lives have been lost.”