Va. Dems to Mitch McConnell: Pass languishing gun control bill

By: - August 5, 2019 7:28 pm

The dome of the United States Capitol in Washington. (Wikimedia Commons)

WASHINGTON — In the wake of two devastating mass shootings over the weekend, Virginia Democrats are imploring the U.S. Senate to vote on sweeping gun control legislation the U.S. House passed in February.

After the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, which killed at least 29 people and injured many more, Virginia members of the U.S. Congress joined Democratic leadership in assailing the GOP-led Senate for refusing to take up a bill to strengthen background checks that passed the House but has gone nowhere in the upper chamber. The House legislation would require federal criminal background checks on all gun sales, including private transactions.

The guns used in the Dayton and El Paso killings appear to have been purchased legally, but Democrats have long pushed to close loopholes that allow firearm transactions to occur — such as private sales and at gun shows — without background checks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a statement Monday urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring lawmakers back from recess to immediately pass the House legislation. The Senate isn’t scheduled to reconvene until Sept. 9. Several Virginia Democrats also prodded the Senate to act swiftly on the bill.

But there appears to be no chance McConnell will grant their request. He called the weekend’s shootings “senseless” and “sickening” on Twitter, but did not mention any possible legislation.

In a radio interview Monday, U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-5th, said “it is time to reevaluate our law enforcement structure and what we’re doing with data,” also calling for better enforcement of existing laws around “terroristic threats.”

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Monday that “strong background checks” could perhaps be tied to immigration reform, but that combination is a nonstarter with his Democratic opponents. Speaking later on Monday, Trump didn’t offer specifics about what kind of legislation he’d be willing to support.

Here’s how Virginia lawmakers have responded to the shootings on social media, and how much money they’ve received from gun rights and gun control groups during their congressional careers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The group tracks contributions from political action committees and individuals giving $200 or more.

U.S. Senate: 

Mark Warner (D)

$2,500 from gun control groups

$5,500 from gun rights groups

Tim Kaine (D)

$87,383 from gun control groups

U.S. House

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st)

$35,600 from gun rights groups

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-2nd)

$23,488 from gun control groups

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd)

$2,500 from gun control groups

Rep. Don McEachin (D-4th)

$4,700 from gun control groups

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-5th)

$17,100 from gun rights groups

Rep. Ben Cline (R-6th)

$5,350 from gun rights groups

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-7th)

$19,428 from gun control groups

Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th)

$15,100 from gun control groups

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-9th)

$42,536 from gun rights groups

No comment.

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th)

$34,115 from gun control groups

$13 from gun rights groups

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th)

$750 from gun control groups

Editor Robert Zullo contributed.

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Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.