Senate Democrats today begin a campaign to combat gun violence via what Politico calls a sweeping package of legislation that builds on their failed 2013 attempt to require universal background checks for gun purchases. The goal is to have the entire caucus, minus perhaps one centrist Democrat, backing a legislative package aimed at preventing guns from ending up in the hands of the wrong people. Democrats also aim to add new money for the Justice Department's existing background checks system that has recently faltered and include provisions to prevent domestic abusers from buying guns. The measure is expected to include a proposal from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to cut down on gun trafficking.
The package aims to ensure that all key records are sent to a federal database and would make straw purchasing a federal crime. “We want to solve the problem and not just talk. So we're putting forward something that's solid and is supported by 90 percent of the American people,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “The critics of the Congress are right: We're not doing enough to protect against gun violence, so we're stepping up to show that we can do it.” The proposal is not likely to get a vote under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but Democrats say the package is intended to show that Democrats are serious about reducing gun deaths but can't make headway in a Republican Senate. Republicans, led by Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, are pitching changes to the mental health system as a preferred way to deal with mass shootings.