Schumer Calls Universal Background Checks Top Priority on Guns

Guns in America

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer signaled Democrats will renew a fight to expand background checks for gun purchasers following last week’s mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Florida high school.

"Our No. 1 priority is going to be universal background checks," Schumer of New York said on a conference call Wednesday. That includes ending the exemption for weapons sold at gun shows, he said.

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President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to protect the rights of gun owners, tweeted yesterday, "Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!" He is scheduled to meet Wednesday with students, parents and teachers who’ve lived through mass shooting incidents, including some from the Florida high school where last week’s killings took place.

Schumer said he wants a broader measure than one written by Texas Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, a Democrat, which seeks to upgrade reporting by states and federal agencies to the existing system rather than expanding background checks to additional sales channels.

Schumer and Senator Dianne Feinstein have called on Republicans including Trump to back her proposed legislative ban on so-called bump stocks and other rapid-fire attachments for semi-automatic rifles, which were used in the Las Vegas massacre last year where 58 people were killed.

Trump on Tuesday urged a regulatory ban on bump stocks, but Democrats say that could take months to enact and may get tied up in court.

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found 97 percent support for universal background checks, while 67 percent backed a ban on the sale of assault weapons.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, also on the conference call, said young people planning marches across the country after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, are making a difference. She said she hopes they "wake up the Republicans to at least allow for a vote on something as simple as background checks."

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