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.
Enough double talk.
Just put the bills on the floor. https://t.co/Pw3IfRbTax
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) August 5, 2019
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.
Mark Warner (D)
$2,500 from gun control groups
$5,500 from gun rights groups
First El Paso, now our country is greiving with the people of Dayton, as well. We can't accept daily mass shootings as the new normal.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) August 4, 2019
Tim Kaine (D)
$87,383 from gun control groups
Any President should recognize that this is a national emergency and demand Congress take action. But this President covers for the NRA and stokes hatred of immigrants and minorities. Why is he blind to the carnage?
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) August 4, 2019
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st)
$35,600 from gun rights groups
My heart breaks for all those affected by these senseless tragedies. I commend the work of the first responders involved and will continue to work to end these acts of violence.
— Rep. Rob Wittman (@RobWittman) August 5, 2019
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-2nd)
$23,488 from gun control groups
I am saddened for all those impacted by the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. Virginia Beach knows your pain all too well. Americans must band together, help each other, and do all we can to combat the gun violence epidemic we are facing.
— Representative Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) August 4, 2019
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd)
$2,500 from gun control groups
Less than 24 hours later, and now the Dayton community is devastated by another gun violence massacre. We don’t have to accept this as normal, elected officials are not helpless to prevent some of this violence.
— Rep. Bobby Scott (@BobbyScott) August 4, 2019
Rep. Don McEachin (D-4th)
$4,700 from gun control groups
— Rep. Donald McEachin (@RepMcEachin) August 4, 2019
Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-5th)
$17,100 from gun rights groups
My heart broke this weekend when I heard about the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton. I condemn the white nationalism of the shooter as a vile and disgusting ideology that has no place in America. We should all stand with one voice against such hatred.
— Congressman Denver Riggleman (@RepRiggleman) August 5, 2019
Rep. Ben Cline (R-6th)
$5,350 from gun rights groups
Terrorism is violence in pursuit of a political agenda. It's evil, and we must call it out if we are to defeat it. I am sickened by yesterday's #WhiteSupremacistTerrorism in El Paso and shooting in Dayton. May God comfort the victims & their families. #ElPasoStrong #DaytonStrong
— Congressman Ben Cline (@RepBenCline) August 4, 2019
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-7th)
$19,428 from gun control groups
This massive failure of Congress to take action comes at a cost, and clearly the American people should expect better from their elected officials.
Going forward, I’ll continue pushing for Senate leadership to act on behalf of the safety of the American people. (4/4)
— Rep. Abigail Spanberger (@RepSpanberger) August 4, 2019
Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th)
$15,100 from gun control groups
Fed up. Another awful tragedy, this time in Dayton, Ohio. Once again weapons made for battlefields used against everyday people. 9 killed and 16 shot even with police responding in one minute. These weapons have no place in American communities and we have to get them out. https://t.co/yHwBwwPvWt
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) August 4, 2019
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-9th)
$42,536 from gun rights groups
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th)
$34,115 from gun control groups
$13 from gun rights groups
2 massacres in 13 hours with 29 dead & 52 injured.
We have a public health & domestic terrorism crisis in America.
Life-saving gun safety legislation is stalled in the Senate while our families & first responders are put in harm’s way.
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) August 4, 2019
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th)
$750 from gun control groups
Tragedy strikes yet another community. My deep sympathy to the grieving families of El Paso. Too many communities have been touched by senseless gun violence. The Senate must act and pass gun safety reform. Inaction can’t be option.
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) August 3, 2019
Editor Robert Zullo contributed.