WASHINGTON – A mother told US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell that she didn’t know whether to buy her daughter a backpack she wanted for school or a bulletproof vest. But “I could not answer those questions,” said the lawmaker, who along with other Democrats, demanded on Tuesday that the US Senate vote on a law to restrict access to firearms.
Dingell was one of the lawmakers who on Tuesday at a Capitol press conference asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, following the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, to call a session of the upper chamber this month to vote on a bill that would tighten background checks for gun purchasers.
Also attending the press conference was House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, as well as lawmakers like Anthony Brown, activists, doctors and massacre survivors.
Hoyer noted that for the past five months the bill had “languished” after its approval in the House, and he called on the Senate to take action on it because in the first seven months of this year more than 9,000 Americans have lost their lives due to armed violence and there have been 250 “mass” shootings – generally considered to be four or more deaths, not including the gunman – nationwide.
At the same press conference, the vice president for policy with the Brady Campaign, Christian Heyne, whose parents were victims of gunfire in 2005, also spoke.
Heyne told his personal story and how he was affected after his father survived being shot three times and his mother died after being shot in the back.
He said that gun violence is not something “abstract,” it is real, emphasizing that when one reads about 100 people dying each day it’s not a “statistic, it’s real.”
Heyne said that the cost of McConnell’s inaction in pushing for better gun control is “human lives.”
Hoyer, meanwhile, concluded the press conference by quoting the lyrics of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind,” saying “How many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned? How many times must a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.”
“How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?” asked Hoyer, referring to McConnell, calling upon the Senate majority leader to show “courage” by convening the Senate to vote on the measure.
However, on Tuesday President Donald Trump put the ball into the court of the Democratic opposition, saying that “I am convinced that Mitch wants to do something ... He wants to do background checks, and I do too, and I think a lot of Republicans do.”
But he added that it might be the Democrats who would be the hurdle to passing such a bill, although he did not specify what he meant by that remark.
The renewed debate on gun control comes after 31 people died within 24 hours two weekends ago in two massacres in an El Paso Walmart and a Dayton nightspot.
Congress has gone for more than two decades without approving any law that would significantly limit gun possession.