Democrats including Rep. Steve Israel on Friday called on the GOP-controlled Congress to pass legislation that would expand background checks to gun purchases made online or at gun shows.
At a news conference in Great Neck, Israel (D-Huntington) and gun control activists cited a surge in mass shootings in urging passage of the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, a version of which failed in the previous Congress.
"We have had almost every week on the floor of the House of Representatives a moment of silence memorializing Americans who were murdered by guns in mass shootings," Israel said. "Enough silence. It's time for action."
Gun sales through licensed dealers are subject to background checks. Beyond extending background checks to online and show purchases, the Public Safety act, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), would provide grants to states and tribal governments to add information such as mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
King, who did not attend the news conference, said in an interview that all gun owners should support the bill.
"But I am realistic and don't see it moving anytime soon," King said of the legislation, noting strong opposition to gun control legislation by Republican leaders in Congress.
The bill by King and Rep. Mike Thompson (R-Calif.) has 182 co-sponsors, including only five Republicans.
King co-sponsored similar legislation after the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 people dead. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did not bring the bill to a vote on the floor and it failed to secure enough votes to break a Senate filibuster.
National Rifle Association spokesman Lars Dalseide said the current bill "fails to address the real problems we all see in the broken mental health system: criminals will never be included so it will never truly be universal."
The NRA contends that the legislation could open the door to a national registry and eventually firearms confiscation. The measure stipulates that no such registry can be created.
Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas also took part in the event.