Senate Democrats unveiled plans on Thursday for gun control reforms that include closing background check loopholes, expanding the background check database, and tightening regulations on illegal gun purchases.
The push is being led by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who on Wednesday sent a letter to their Senate colleagues outlining the proposals. During the press conference the lawmakers recounted deadly mass shootings across the nation over the past several years and stressed that personal conversations with the victims’ relatives and friends helped underscore the need for “sensible gun reform legislation”.
Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said he was moved to support the plan when his daughters asked him “what are you going to do to stop this.” Warner said he was also moved by the pleas of Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker, the news reporter who, along with a colleague, was shot and killed on air in August.
The lawmakers backing the package of reforms said in a letter that “the American people are heartbroken and outraged” after last week’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
The changes would “bolster the background check system by strengthening it and stopping those who try to evade it,” the letter said.
It also calls for “shutting down the illegal pipeline of guns,” specifically straw purchasing — where one person buys a firearm for someone not legally allowed to.
The senators say their plans will echo the failed Manchin-Toomey bill of 2013, bipartisan legislation that called for universal background checks in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.
“These principles will be a rallying point for a public that is eager for Congressional action, and will be the basis for future legislation that we will demand receive a vote.”
The senators will demand that “all domestic abusers” are banned from purchasing firearms, and that people are not allowed buy guns without a completed background check.
The announcement comes before President Obama’s scheduled to visit Roseburg on Friday, where he will visit victims’ families. Obama has said introducing common-sense gun laws would be a priority during the remainder of his presidency.
Joe Manchin, D-West Va., told Morning Joe on Thursday that his legislation made sense after Sandy Hook, and it “makes sense now.”
“If we’re going to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, then we’ve got to stand up as law-abiding gun owners,” he said, adding that Democrats had sometimes “gone way too far … on things they’ve wanted to ban,” but that gun reform was “common sense.”
Eighty-five percent of all Americans favor universal background checks on gun sales, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in July, while 79 percent favor laws that would stop mentally-ill people purchasing firearms.