WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that the country’s elected officials have a responsibility to “ensure domestic tranquility” and called on the Senate to return to work to vote on the House’s bill bolstering background checks for gun purchases.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Pelosi said she’s heard “grave concern” from Americans and members of Congress about gun violence and the rise of heated rhetoric, including xenophobia and white supremacy.
“The Senate has to do the job,” Pelosi said. “This is simple: They just have to take up the bill and send it to the president.”
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have expressed a new openness to gun legislation in the wake of mass shootings this month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Congress is on summer recess and McConnell, the Republican leader, has said he won’t be calling senators back to session. Instead, he has asked committee chairmen to review possible bills for consideration when lawmakers return in September.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee announced Friday they will be returning early to consider other gun-violence legislation.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York said his panel will gather on Sept. 4 to consider a series of bills, including one that would ban high-capacity magazines of ammunition. The panel will also hold a hearing later in September to examine military-style assault weapons, which many Democrats want to ban.
Pelosi said elected officials have a responsibility to “ensure domestic tranquility” as outlined in the Constitution.
She said she’s heard “concerns about white supremacy, xenophobia, guns” — what she called “an explosive combination” — that needs to be addressed.
“In the near, near future — in the immediate future — we must address the issue of gun violence and the attitudes that are making it less safe for some people in our country,” Pelosi said.
“We have to do much better in that regard and I would hope that we can do so in a bipartisan way.”
The House approved legislation earlier this year that would bolster background checks for gun purchases. A similar bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate, but some senators doubt it would deter the kinds of mass shootings like those the occurred earlier this month.
The gunmen in El Paso and Dayton killed a total of 31 people in back-to-back weekend shootings that stunned the nation and revived calls to tighten access to firearms.