NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Universal background checks on gun sales or nothing at all. That was the message from congressional Democratic leaders to President Donald Trump on Sunday as they await much-anticipated gun legislation the president is expected to propose this week.
New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, surrounded by gun safety advocates, rallied in the Big Apple to put pressure on the president. They’re calling on him to support the universal background check bill passed by the House 200 days ago and to urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell to put the bill on the floor for a vote.
Robert Gaafar, from Rockville Centre on Long Island, survived the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017.
“I don’t want to live in a country where mass shootings become as American as apple pie, or where guns are worshipped like idols, and the protection of life is secondary,” Gaafar told reporters, including CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez. “It’s like we’re becoming one nation under gun.”
“The future of this bill, the future of many, many lives, thousands, tens of thousands of lives … is in the hands of only two people, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. I am confident that if they put this bill on the floor, it would pass,” Schumer said.
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to the president by phone on Sunday morning, saying: “Any proposal he proposes without universal background checks legislation will not get the job done… and people who shouldn’t have guns will still have access.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere confirmed the conversation, saying it was “cordial.” He added the president “made no commitments,” but was “working to find a bipartisan legislative solution.”
“I told the president it was the right thing to do. It was the just thing to do and, frankly, I told him it’s politically correct,” Schumer said. “He said he’s working on it.”
“I think I can speak for Republicans. We’d like to do something,” Trump said Thursday.
After the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, the president called for gun control legislation. This week he met with his top advisers and said he’s working with both parties on a proposal. The White House has been talking to a trio of lawmakers — Democrats Chris Murphy and Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey, all whom support tougher background checks.
“A lot of progress was made, I believe, on the background checks and the various things having to do with guns,” Trump said.
The universal background check bill expands checks to cover private sales such as the one that allowed the El Paso shooting suspect to buy his weapon before killing seven people last month.