WASHINGTON — Gun control and anti-gun violence advocates fear that just as momentum was building behind their efforts to change gun laws in the United States, the politics of impeachment may have thrown a wrench in the works.
Those fears were stoked by reports that President Donald Trump is continuing to consult with the National Rifle Association (NRA) about supporting his battle against impeachment as well as the 2020 campaign.
Kris Brown, the head of Brady United Against Gun Violence, says America can’t afford to wait for the situation to sort itself out and the Senate needs to vote on the universal background check bill that the House approved months ago.
Last week, President Trump told reporters an impeachment inquiry will prevent finding solutions on gun reform.
“We can’t talk about gun regulation, we can’t talk about anything because frankly they’re so tied up, they’re so screwed up,” he said.
But on Wednesday, Democratic leaders vowed to keep pressure on the president.
“We’re not going away until we get legislation signed into law that protects our children,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said.
Congressman Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, says President Trump could take a page out of President Bill Clinton’s playbook.
“When the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for telling one lie for sex, Clinton said: ‘that is a constitutional process. I’m just going to let go, I’m going to ignore it and I’m going to work on a whole bunch of things,” Raskin said.
Brown says the Senate can act on life-saving legislation anytime, despite the president’s unwillingness.
“The Senate today, tomorrow could take up those measures and get them to President Trump’s desk—impeachment or no impeachment,” Brown said.
H.R.8, the universal background checks bill, passed the house in March and has been waiting without action on the Senate’s legislative calendar for more than 200 days.
At least one lawmaker with President Trump’s ear—Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina—says he’s pushing the president to get something done.
“Work with Blumenthal and Murphy on guns. Keep fighting back,” he said. “Work with us on guns.”
“I think there’s a real opportunity with the right kind of influence and personal discussions with the president to try and move forward,” Brown added.
For now, it’s still uncertain what President Trump will support—if anything at all.
There was progress made on this issue last month when Attorney General William Barr was on Capitol Hill, laying out to lawmakers a potential solution to gun violence in America by expanding background checks, but that’s stuck in a holding pattern.