JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 200 mayors, including two anguished by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio and more than a dozen from Florida cities, are urging the Senate to return to the Capitol to act on gun safety legislation amid criticism that Congress is failing to respond to back-to-back shootings that left 31 people dead.
In a letter dated Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, 214 mayors signed a letter saying, "Our nation can no longer wait for our federal government to take the actions necessary to prevent people who should not have access to firearms from being able to purchase them."
The mayors urged the Senate to vote on two House-passed bills expanding background checks for gun sales that passed that chamber earlier this year. It was signed by El Paso, Texas, Mayor Dee Margo, Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley and others where mass shootings have occurred, including Orlando and Parkland, Florida, Pittsburgh and Annapolis, Maryland.
"There is no worse thing that can happen to a city," Whaley said of the weekend shooting that killed nine people in Dayton. "We cannot allow this tragic event to fade from our memories without taking action. Politics has stood in the way of action for too long, and I can tell you politics seems very petty when it is your friends and neighbors who are injured or dead."
In addition to the Orlando and Parkland mayors, the chief executives of Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee are among 14 from Florida cities who signed the letter.
The push comes as McConnell, the Republican leader, resists pressure to recall senators from the congressional recess, despite wrenching calls to "do something" in the aftermath of the shootings.
Instead, the Republican leader is taking a more measured approach, as GOP senators talk frequently among themselves and with the White House in the face of mounting criticism that Congress is failing to act.
President Donald Trump is privately calling up senators while publicly pushing for an expansion of background checks for firearms purchases, but McConnell knows those ideas have little Republican support. In fact, the White House threatened to veto a House-passed background checks bill earlier this year. Yet, as the nation reels from the frequency of shootings and their grave toll, McConnell's unwillingness to confront the gun lobby or move more swiftly is coming under scrutiny.