Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to urge you to confront the gun violence epidemic that is devastating America by calling for the Senate to immediately take up the House-passed, bipartisan, commonsense background checks legislation that passed 250 days ago this week. As you know, an estimated 100 people die from the gun violence crisis every single day – including 47 children and teenagers. As elected officials, we have a solemn responsibility to protect the American people, and to make our neighborhoods, schools, houses of worship and other public places finally safe from the terror and tragedy of gun violence.
After the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, you stated that “we cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain” and that “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks.” Following your apparent support for confronting this issue, Leader McConnell promised that a debate on background checks would be “front and center” in the Senate after the summer District Work Period. Unfortunately, there are indications you have reversed your support for passing gun violence prevention legislation. Sadly, it has been reported that this is because of concerns about your re-election and a desire to appease special interests like the NRA. And, noting this reversal, Leader McConnell has, once again, followed your example, and refused to bring commonsense, bipartisan, life-saving legislation passed by the House to the Floor.
We believe that you have an historic opportunity to save lives, simply by reaffirming your clear support for strengthening background checks, which you have publicly supported before, which are supported by more than 90 percent of the public and which are ready to be brought to the Senate Floor. Again, 250 days ago this week, the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) and the Enhanced Background Checks Act (H.R. 1112). H.R. 8 simply expands the existing background checks law to include guns sold at gun shows, online and through person-to-person sales, and was so named because it was passed eight years after the deadly attack on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords that stole six lives. The House also passed H.R. 1112, closing the dangerous Charleston loophole that enabled the tragic hate crime at Mother Emanuel Church that killed nine devout parishioners. While Leader McConnell has let these bills sit on his desk, an estimated 25,000 Americans have died from the gun violence crisis. Inaction in the face of this loss of human life is an indictment on all who fail to do what is in their power to prevent these tragedies from occurring at such an appalling rate. Promptly passing commonsense universal background check bills is one such effective and broadly-supported policy.
While these bills will not prevent every shooting, they will undoubtedly save many lives by helping to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. In fact, they would have prevented the gunman in the Odessa, Texas shootings from purchasing the assault rifle he used to murder seven people and to injure more than 20 others on August 31st.
We believe that you are uniquely positioned to save countless lives in America. These bills are overwhelmingly supported by the vast majority of the public, including Republicans and gun owners. Even if this was not so, we would remind you that no one’s political survival is more important than the survival of our children.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
CHARLES E. SCHUMER