Democrats on Sunday called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to reconvene the upper chamber to vote on House legislation that would expand background checks for gun buyers in the wake of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend.
“One awful event after another. Leader McConnell must call the Senate back for an emergency session to put the House-passed universal background checks legislation on the Senate floor for debate and a vote immediately,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (I-V.t.) similarly urged McConnell to bring the Senate back into session following the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, which took place within 24 hours of each other. More than 30 people died and scores more were injured in the two shootings.
The Senate adjourned last week for its annual August recess. No votes are scheduled until Sept. 9 and most lawmakers are meeting with constituents in their home states. Some also typically travel abroad during recess on congressional delegation visits to other nations.
One Republican senator indicated Sunday he would be willing to go back to Washington to discuss gun violence.
“I’d leave tonight, I’ll go tomorrow. It doesn’t matter to me, this is such an important issue and an issue that we sometimes only get part of the picture because of the mass shootings,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” referring to the 2015 Charleston church shooting in his state.
Earlier this year, the Democratic-controlled House passed a bill requiring background checks on all firearm sales in the country. But the measure has languished in the Republican-controlled Senate, with McConnell unwilling to bring it to the floor for a vote.
In 2013, the Senate voted on a similar bill that would have expanded background checks to all gun purchases. It failed to reach the necessary 60-vote threshold to advance, however.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the author of the measure alongside Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), on Sunday called on Congress to pass “bipartisan proposals such as my legislation with Senator Joe Manchin to expand background checks to all commercial firearm sales.”
“While no law will end mass shootings entirely, it’s time for Congress to act to help keep our communities safer,” Toomey added in a statement.
Other Republicans, such as Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, suggested the federal government has no good solution to stemming gun violence.
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. Sadly, there are some issues, like homelessness and these shootings, where we simply don’t have all the answers,” Cornyn tweeted Sunday.
This article was updated after the death toll in the El Paso shooting increased Monday.