New York’s senior senator voiced his strong support Sunday in Manhattan for two votes set for Monday to help keep firearms out of the hands of terrorists, calling for the public’s help in lobbying their lawmakers on gun control.
“One of the very top things we can do when it comes to lone wolves is make sure they can’t get guns,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat.
The Senate will consider legislation to impose universal background checks, extending them to gun shows and online sales, and give the Justice Department the authority to deny gun sales to those on the terrorist watch list.
Democratic senators, including Chris Murphy of Connecticut, used a 15-hour filibuster last week to force floor votes on the issues in the wake of a mass shooting one week ago at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“It’s a new America. ISIS preying on lone wolves who could easily get guns,” Schumer said at a news conference in Herald Square. “That has to stop before there’s another Orlando.”
A gunman last week killed 49 people and injured 53 in what has been called the deadliest shooting in the nation’s history. The attack renewed calls by Democrats to close loopholes in gun laws.
National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Democrats are trying to divert attention from President Barack Obama’s failure to stop terrorism.
“What we’re doing with this debate on the Hill right now, it’s like they’re trying to stop a freight train with a piece of Kleenex,” he said.
LaPierre said firearms restrictions won’t stop terrorist attacks.
“Laws didn’t stop them in Boston, laws didn’t stop them in San Bernardino, where you had every type of gun-control law you can have; and they didn’t stop them in Paris, where people can’t even own guns,” LaPierre said.
The NRA leader said law enforcement officials want gun sales to suspected terrorists to go through so that they can track the individuals and build a case against them.
Schumer countered that the FBI wants to be notified of such sales; they do not want the purchases to go through.
Schumer, who participated in the filibuster, slammed the NRA and congressional colleagues who are “bowing obeisance” to the group.
The senator said he does not know if the two measures — the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act and the Fix Gun Checks Act — would have enough votes to pass, but said colleagues who have opposed them in the past are rethinking their positions.
He asked voters to reach out to their senators and congressmen: “Just a phone call, an email, a text could actually save lives.”