As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to adjourn this evening, Senate Democrats took the floor to speak about the need for new gun laws.
Among the 22 Senators participating are Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., as well as Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Merkley spoke about the red flag and background check laws Oregon has already passed and urged the Senate to take similar action.
In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a universal background check bill with some Republican votes and Merkley cited broad support in the U.S. for such measures.
“We’re here in this chamber to help make lives better,” he said. “We’re here to keep Americans safe. But we’re doing nothing. And doing nothing with 90-plus percent of America crying out and saying ‘have the guts to act.’”
Murray criticized McConnell for not allowing a vote on the House bill.
“The House has passed universal background checks legislation,” she said. “But it’s now languishing here in the Senate, despite our calls for a vote, all because the majority leader just won’t bring it up.”
Currently, federal law only requires a background check for gun sales by a federally licensed firearms dealers For private sales there is no requirement, meaning in many states it’s possible to buy a gun without passing a background check.
Oregon is one of 12 states requiring a background check on all firearms sales and the U.S. House bill would make that federal law.
The pressure on the Senate is likely to grow. Last week Democrats in the House passed three more gun laws out of the Judiciary Committee and sent them to the floor for a vote.