Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday poured cold water on "red flag" legislation that is gaining traction among some Senate Republicans in the wake of a pair of mass shootings over the weekend, calling the measure an "ineffective cop out."
"The notion that passing a tepid version of an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) 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.
He added that 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."
Schumer's comments come as several Republican senators have floated passing legislation to provide incentives for states to pass red flag laws in response to last weekend's mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
Red flag laws, as discussed by Republicans, would let family members petition for court orders to prevent dangerous individuals from being able to buy a gun. It would also let family members petition for court orders to have law enforcement temporarily remove a firearm.
Republican senators, including Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), have talked about the idea of passing legislation that would provide grants to states to enact the laws.
President Trump also name-checked the idea during his White House speech on Monday, while Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told the Argus Leader that he was "confident Congress will be able to find common ground on the so-called 'red flag' issue."
But Democrats have homed in on trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) into passing a House bill that would implement universal background checks in the wake of the two mass shootings.
"Even the strongest [extreme risk protection order] legislation won’t be fully effective without strong universal background checks. As long as the gun show and online sales loopholes exist, someone prohibited from possessing a gun under an ERPO law could still purchase a firearm far too easily," Schumer said in a statement.
The House passed its background check bill earlier this year with only eight Republicans voting for it. The Senate companion bill has 42 backers, none of whom are Republicans, leaving it well short of the 60 votes needed to pass the chamber and head to Trump's desk. The White House has threatened to veto the bill.
But Schumer added that Democrats would try to force a vote on the House bill if Republicans bring red flag legislation to the Senate floor.
"Democrats in the Senate will seek to require that any ERPO bill that comes to the floor is accompanied by a vote on the House-passed universal background checks legislation," he said.
Call your Members of Congress - they MUST NOT SETTLE for ‘half-measures’ when it comes to gun control legislation.
Sen. Ron Johnson (202) 224-5323
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (202) 224-5653
Rep. Bryan Steil (202) 225-3031
Outside of Wisconsin (202) 224-3121
Source: "Schumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out”, by Jordain Carney, The Hill