Senate Democrats to introduce background check bill

By Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Oct. 3, 2017 at 7:03 PM
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Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A group of Senate Democrats on Tuesday said they intend to introduce legislation closing a loophole that lets a person purchase a gun if their background check isn't completed after 72 hours.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut announced the measure during a news conference along with Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chris Murphy of Connecticut. The spoke two days after a man opened fire from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay and Casino in Las Vegas on a country music festival, killing 59 people and injuring 527 others.

The three called on Congress to pass legislation to prevent the next mass shooting. Blumenthal said Congress is "complicit each day it fails to act."

"The reason we don't have gun safety measures in the United States today is because of the [National Rifle Association]," he said. "And we will defeat them."

"We have it in our power to curb gun violence and save lives. It is that simple. Congress is complicit each day it fails to act," he later added in a tweet.

Murphy said gun violence is a "uniquely American problem."

"It's because this country has the loosest set of gun laws allowing dangerous people to own dangerous weapons in the industrialized world," he said.

He said the "utter silence" from Congress on the issue is unacceptable.

During a news conference held by Senate leadership, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it wasn't appropriate to politicize the Las Vegas shooting.

"The investigation has not even been completed. I think it's premature to be discussing legislative solutions, if there are any," he said.

Other gun-related legislation currently being considered in the House, meanwhile, has been shelved for the time being.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks about the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas following a Republican conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said there are no plans to bring a bill that would make it easier for Americans to purchase gun silencers to the House floor in the wake of the mass Las Vegas shooting.

The bill, a provision in the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, was originally planned to advance earlier in the year, but was delayed when House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot June 14 in Alexandria, Va.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., told reporters Monday night the bill was going to be voted upon next week, but after the shooting in Vegas that killed 59 people, "who knows now," The Hill reported.

On Tuesday, Ryan said there was no imminent plan.

"That bill is not scheduled now; I don't know when it's going to be scheduled," he said. "Right now we're focused on passing our budget."

The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee in August. It would change a law that requires a special license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in order to purchase a firearm silencer. Under the legislation, a silencer would require only a federal background check -- the same required for purchasing a firearm.

The Vegas shooting Sunday prompted some congressional Democrats -- as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- to more vocally oppose the silencer bill Monday.

"One of the few ways the police had to go after this shooter was they could look for the sound, try to hear the sound of where the guns came from," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor. "Thank God our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have pulled back on this bill."

Duncan, who introduced the bill along with Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, in January, said silencers would protect the hearing of hunters.

"This legislation is about safety -- plain and simple," Duncan said at the time. "My hearing has been damaged because of gun noise. Had I had access to a suppressor, it may have protected me, as well as millions of other Americans, from this sort of hearing loss."

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