Though he decried a “plague of gun violence” in America on the Senate floor Wednesday, Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer seemed to suggest there will not be an immediate vote on gun control legislation as the nation reels from the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Instead, he urged voters who care about the gun issue to head to the polls this November and vote for lawmakers who represent their interests.
“A plague, a plague upon this nation, a plague of gun violence that has taken over the country,” Schumer said in a speech denouncing Republicans for opposing legislation passed by the House that would expand background checks for firearm purchases.
“The problem in the Senate is simple: Too many members on the other side of the aisle are disconnected from the suffering of the American people. Too many members on that side care more about the NRA than they do about families who grieve victims of gun violence,” he said.
A fierce election-year debate over gun control has reignited in America after a deadly shooting in Buffalo, New York, claimed the lives of ten people on May 14 and now a massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, left at least 19 children and two adults dead, according to CNN.
Republicans and Democrats condemned the shooting and expressed sympathy for the grieving families of the victims, but Schumer and other Democrats say thoughts and prayers are insufficient and ineffective — that laws need to be passed to make it harder for people to obtain firearms.
“They talk of the real villain being mental illness and say nothing about the fact that we are a nation suffocating in firearms,” Schumer said of Republicans.
“It’s far too easy for people to access weapons in this country and then to use them to slaughter people, slaughter children, by the dozens,” he asserted.
But Schumer acknowledged political reality in the Senate — that bipartisan compromise is “unlikely” and that Democrats do not have 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and pass either of the two gun background check bills passed by the House during President Joe Biden’s term.
“There are some who want this body to quickly vote on sensible gun safety legislation, legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans: Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. They want to see this body vote quickly so the American people can know which side each senator is on — which side each senator is on,” Schumer said.
“I’m sympathetic to that,” he continued. “And I believe that accountability votes are important. But sadly, this isn’t a case of the American people not knowing where their senators stand. They know. They know because my Republican colleagues are perfectly clear on this issue, crystal clear. Republicans don’t pretend that they support sensible gun safety legislation.”
Instead of a Senate vote, Schumer alluded to the upcoming midterm elections in November, when he said “Americans can make a choice.”
“Americans can reject the Republican guns-at-all-costs doctrine, obeisance to the NRA, not even working for the most simple, sensitive, positive, and popular gun legislation. Americans can cast their vote in November for senators or members of Congress that reflect how he or she stands with guns, with this issue — this issue — at the top of the voters’ lists.”
If the Senate cannot agree on a “strong bill that has bipartisan support,” which Schumer reiterated was “unlikely,” then he said Democrats will “continue to pursue this issue on our own. We have no choice. It’s too important. Lives are at stake.”
After Schumer spoke, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) addressed the Senate, calling the Uvalde massacre “literally sickening.”
“It’s literally sickening, sickening to consider the innocent young lives that were stolen by this pointless, senseless, brutality,” McConnell said.
“The entire nation’s hearts are broken for the victims and for their families. Words simply fail.”