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Gillibrand, Schumer pressure McConnell, Trump on gun background checks

2019-09-16

After months of inaction from Republicans on mass shootings, New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer on Sunday repeated their calls for President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to enact universal background checks.

“The future of this bill, the future of many, many lives — thousands, tens of thousands of lives -— is in the hands of only two people: Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell,” Schumer said at a press conference.

The push came after Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed the issue in a phone conversation with Trump, who’s been revisiting possible gun control measures since a series of mass shootings in August.

“I told the president it was the right thing to do, it was the just thing to do and, frankly, I told him it’s politically correct, maybe appealing to that,” Schumer said.

“I’ve been burned before by this president, where he says something right after a terrible tragedy and then does nothing and backs off.”

The White House characterized the call as “cordial,” noting Trump made no commitment, according to Reuters.

The Democratic-controlled House in February passed legislation closing loopholes that allow people to buy arms through gun shows, websites and other unlicensed dealers without undergoing background checks.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) have been nudging Trump toward universal background checks, according to Politico.

But the negotiations come as the effort to impeach Trump could be gaining momentum in the House. The House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday on rules governing future impeachment hearings. Gillibrand and Schumer refused to discuss the impeachment issue.

“That’s why we’re here today,” Gillibrand said, “to stand up to Sen. McConnell and ask him what he’s waiting for, why he’s unwilling to take on the gun lobby, why he’s unwilling to stand up to the NRA, why he’s satisfied with inaction.”

Trenelle Gabay, whose husband Carey Gabay was killed in the crossfire of a gang shooting in September 2015, also spoke at the news conference.

“Too many lives are shattered and we don’t need thoughts and prayers. We the people need action for a safer America for all of us and for all future generations,” said Gabay, whose husband was a lawyer for Gov. Cuomo.

She said she planned to visit his grave Sunday, to mark the fourth anniversary of his death.