(WCMH) — Even though Congress is in recess, the gun debate continues to dominate the discussion in Washington.
Two weeks ago, nine people were killed in a mass shooting in Dayton. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said Thursday the gunman had drugs and alcohol in his system when he opened fire outside a bar in the Oregon District.
A similar scene of grief played out in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed when a shooter targeted Mexicans inside of a Walmart just hours before the shooting in Dayton.
House Democrats ramped up pressure on President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) to tighten gun laws. Trump has insisted that McConnell and other Republicans back measures to expand background checks for gun purchases, but McConnell’s own staff has made it clear that the senator hasn’t endorsed any specific background check legislation.
“We’d just have people scoring points and nothing would happen,” McConnell said defending his decision not to call Senate back early from its summer recess. “There has to be a bipartisan discussion of what we can agree on.”
Instead, McConnell tasked three committee chairmen to work through their own proposals on gun violence that will be taken up when the Senate returns to work next month. GOP staffers also made another thing clear: The end game, to the extent that there is one, lies with Trump.
“Tell me where he lands on the policy, and I’ll tell you what we’re debating in September,” one senior Republican aide said.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are trying to take advantage of the momentum, now pressing on a dual-pronged approach: House Democrats calling on the Republican-led Senate to vote on a House-passed background check measure and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asking the Trump administration to withdraw its $5 billion request for border wall funding and reallocate the funding instead toward programs combatting violent extremism, domestic terrorism and gun violence research.
For his part, Trump has continued a series of calls with lawmakers involved in the gun issue, including some staunchly opposed to GOP positions.
“He certainly believes that there is a deal to be had on what he calls a ‘meaningful background check bill,’” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said. “The devil is in the details as to what he means by that.”
Central Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty is among those calling for action. A native of Dayton, Beatty’s reaction to the tragic news went from devastation to anger to concern.
“We won’t ever be able to stop all of them, but I know there is more that we can do,” she said. “I felt helpless and then I felt like we have to continue to fight as Democrats, as Republicans, but also as citizens, this affects all of us.”
Beatty urged on constituents to call, write and email congressional leaders to put more pressure on lawmakers — particularly the GOP-controlled Senate — to approve expanded background checks and to reinstate the ban on assault weapons.
“I’m all for the Second Amendment, but we don’t need to have automatic weapons stronger than our armed forces’. We don’t need to have the magazine clips with high capacity ammunition,” she explained. “We need to close the loopholes.”