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Democrats to Outline Gun Control Principles After Oregon Shooting

Democrats, led by DPCC chairman Schumer, will hold a news conference Thursday on gun control. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Democrats, led by DPCC chairman Schumer, will hold a news conference Thursday on gun control. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats will kick off their latest gun control effort Thursday on the steps of the Capitol.  

A group of Democratic caucus members, including Oregon’s Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, are scheduled to take part. The most recent mass shooting took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. President Barack Obama is expected to travel to Roseburg on Friday.  

The Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center informed Democratic offices that the event will feature three goals for firearm safety enhancement, according to a “Dear Colleague” letter obtained by CQ Roll Call.  

“Senate Democrats will call for ending the loopholes that allow people to buy a gun online or at a gun show without having to pass a background check. This principle embodies the same concepts as the previously introduced Manchin-Toomey legislation,” says the letter from DPCC leaders Charles E. Schumer of New York and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.  

That bill was introduced by Democratic Sen, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Republican Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania in 2013, but failed to achieve the 60 votes that would have been needed to advance.  

Schumer and Stabenow say the Democrats also intend to make a new push for improving the background check databases, including to provide for a blockade against individuals with a history of domestic abuse from getting guns. The letter also calls for a crackdown on straw purchasing of firearms, the practice by which people who should not be buying guns obtain them through another person making the actual purchase.  

“All three of these principles would bolster the background check system by strengthening it and stopping those who try to evade it,” the senators write. “These principles will be a rallying point for a public that is eager for Congressional action, and will be the basis for future legislation that we will demand receive a vote.”  

Operating in the minority, Democrats do not control the floor schedule. They could, however, craft a legislative proposal and seek to offer it as an amendment to legislation that’s a high priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, setting up the potential for a vote, particularly if the Democratic caucus succeeds in rallying for a single plan after their Thursday morning event at the Capitol building.

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