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Schumer warns GOP against settling for ‘tepid’ red flag laws

Schumer warns GOP against settling for 'tepid' red flag laws



Chuck Schumer

Sen. Chuck Schumersaid that red flag bills, also known as extreme risk protection order legislation, would not be sufficient without universal background checks. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Congress

The Senate minority leader is insisting on a vote on universal background checks after the latest mass shootings.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday warned Republicans against trying to pass modest legislation promoting “red flag” laws as their sole response to the latest wave of mass shootings.

Schumer said Democrats would try to require any red flag measure that comes to the Senate floor be paired with a vote on legislation establishing universal background checks, which the Democratic House passed earlier this year.

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“The notion that passing a tepid version of [a red flag] bill—alone—is even close to getting the job done in addressing rampant gun violence in the U.S. is wrong and would be an ineffective cop out,” Schumer said in a statement. “We Democrats are not going to settle for half-measures so Republicans can feel better and try to push the issue of gun violence off to the side.”

Democrats could try to block such legislation from reaching the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, but it’s not clear they would do so.

Red flag laws, which allow the police or a family member to petition a court to temporarily restrict access to firearms for individuals who may be a threat to others or themselves, have been adopted in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

President Donald Trump called for such laws in the aftermath of two shootings over the weekend that killed at least 31 people in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso Texas, and GOP lawmakers soon followed suit.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday he would introduce legislation with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that would create a grant program to help law enforcement work with mental health professionals to take action. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also has a similar bill to encourage states to implement such laws.

Schumer argued that red flag bills, also known as extreme risk protection order legislation, would not be sufficient without universal background checks. And he noted the Republican bills being proposed don’t require states to adopt red flag legislation.

“It would just provide grant incentives for states to implement laws of their own, which runs the risk of doing more harm than good in the long run if states decide to take up weaker laws,” Schumer said.

He also warned the National Rifle Association could “water down” the proposals. The powerful gun rights group has opposed every state red flag law that has been implemented, citing concerns about a lack of due process.

Ahead of a trip to Dayton and El Paso, Trump said “there’s a very strong appetite for background checks,” but most Senate Republicans have resisted such a plan.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is reviving his bipartisan background checks proposal with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), but acknowledged earlier this week that there is work to do in convincing his Republican colleagues to support it.



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