Chuck Schumer: Passing only Trump-backed gun bill would be an 'abject failure'

  • Chuck Schumer wants Congress to pass a universal background check bill.
  • He says a more narrow bill to improve background checks supported by GOP leaders does not go far enough.
  • Ninety-seven percent of American voters support universal background checks, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week.
Sen. Chuck Schumer
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Sen. Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is not satisfied with Republican plans to address gun safety.

In a statement Monday, the New York Democrat called for Congress to pass a universal background check bill rather than a more narrow solution backed by President Donald Trump and GOP leaders. Passing only a narrow plan to improve background checks "would be an abject failure and a dereliction of duty" following the shooting massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school, he argued.

"It is our hope that Republican leaders will help pass real legislation that makes a difference, rather than [National Rifle Association]-backed bills that make Republicans feel better without meaningfully addressing the issue of gun safety," the senator said.

Since the massacre, Trump has vowed to take action to reduce access to guns and improve school safety. Trump has supported possible changes, including boosting the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, raising the age to buy assault-style rifles to 21, banning "bump stocks" that effectively make semi-automatic rifles fire like a machine gun and arming some "gun adept" teachers.

The "Fix NICS" background check bill introduced last year by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, appears to have the best chance of passing Congress.

The bill aims to make federal agencies better at following rules that require them to submit criminal convictions to the FBI, which could help stop high-risk individuals from getting guns. Last year, the Air Force said it had not submitted records that could have stopped the shooter who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, from buying a gun.

Schumer said Democrats are "pleased" Trump supports the Cornyn bill. But he contended that passing a measure requiring background checks for all guns sales would better solve the problem. Currently, many firearm purchases online or at gun shows do not require background checks.

A senator who previously championed a universal background check bill — Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia — said he would not revive the effort unless Trump supported it, according to Politico. While Trump has repeatedly pledged to improve background checks since the Florida shooting, he has not explicitly backed universal background checks.

Nearly all American voters — 97 percent — support universal background checks, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week.

One of the "Fix NICS" bill's Democratic backers, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, has also argued it does not go far enough to address gun violence.

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