A bipartisan bill to expand background checks and legislation that would flag mentally unstable gun owners are at the top of possible measures Congress could consider in the wake of the two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and Rep. Pete King, a Republican from New York, held a joint press conference in Long Island calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to convene the Senate in August and call up a vote on legislation that would require a background check for every gun purchase, including now-excluded gun shows and private sales.
Other lawmakers want Congress to take up “red flag” legislation that would permit the seizure of guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves or to others.
Neither proposal goes as far as many Democrats would like: banning assault-style weapons and bulk sales of ammunition.
But the two recent shootings, which happened in a year of many other similar incidents, has pushed even some GOP lawmakers into backing a weapons ban.
“I will support legislation that prevents the sale of military style weapons to civilians, a magazine limit, and red flag legislation,” Rep. Mike Turner, a Republican from Ohio, who represents Dayton, said Tuesday. “I believe these are necessary steps forward in protecting our country and a testament to American values, which include protecting human life.”
Trump so far has not publicly indicated support for banning weapons.
Instead, he signaled he’s interested in both the background check expansion and red flag proposals.
"Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform," Trump tweeted Monday.
"We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!"
Trump also endorsed “red flag” laws that permit gun seizures from individuals deemed to be dangerous.
"We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process," Trump said Monday during an address at the White House. "That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders."
Both measures have at least some bipartisan support in both chambers.
The Democrat-led House passed the background check bill on Feb. 27 with the support of eight Republicans.
Both parties have introduced red flag legislation but neither chamber has voted on a bill.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, announced bipartisan legislation that would provide grants to states to help implement and incentivize red flag laws.
Red flag laws have been implemented in 17 states.
“I am pleased to have reached an agreement with Senator Lindsey Graham on a framework for a new Emergency Risk Protection Order statute,” Blumenthal tweeted Monday. “This statute will provide grants & incentives to states like Connecticut to enable law enforcement & courts to remove guns when there’s a risk of danger.”
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, and Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, introduced a similar but separate red flag measures earlier this year. Rubio is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to advance his measure at the next meeting.
“Identifying & stopping a killer before they act is best way to prevent these tragedies,” Rubio said Monday.
Schumer wasn’t enthusiastic about red flag legislation, insisting on Tuesday the background check bill is the most important legislation to pass in the wake of the two shootings.
“The idea of a red flag law is OK, but it’s not enough,” Schumer said.
Congressional action on any gun control measure will depend largely on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and what kind of bill he is willing to bring to the floor.
McConnell has so far ignored the House-passed background check bill and hasn’t expressed specific interest in red flag legislation.
He has not responded to Schumer’s and Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand that Congress reconvene now to vote on a bill.
The Senate and House are adjourned until after Labor Day.
McConnell has instead directed Graham and two other committee leaders, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander and Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker to “reflect on the subjects the president raised within their jurisdictions and encouraged them to engage in bipartisan discussions of potential solutions to help protect our communities without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights.”