Mon May 6, 2013
Gun Control Groups Petition Mitch McConnell to Support Background Checks Bill
Gun control advocates rallied outside of Republican Mitch McConnell’s downtown Louisville office to deliver a petition asking Kentucky’s senior senator to change his position on expanded background checks.
Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Moms Demand Action had over 30 members demonstrating outside McConnell's office before delivering 1,200 signatures urging Congress to support "sensible" gun reforms.
Last month, the Senate rejected the Manchin-Toomey bill, which supporters argued would keep firearms out of the hands of convicted felons and the mentally ill.
Gun rights activists say the bill would only restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to obtain guns, however.
The petition to McConnell scolds lawmakers for doing "nothing to stop gun killings." It goes on to argue any guns reforms "must include background checks for gun purchases."
Moms Demand Action member Pam Gersh spoke at the rally. She says McConnell is out of touch for voting against the bipartisan compromise, but promises more pressure in the coming weeks.
"We’re a group that is enraged and engaged," she says. "We are going to continue putting pressure on our elected representative and they’re going to continue to hear our voices whenever we have the opportunity. And there are lot of groups working on this now."
The petition was delivered on a day where Democrats appear to be reviving the legislation.
In an editorial this weekend, Vice President Joe Biden pledged the Obama administration hasn't given up on expanded background checks for gun purchases.
Senate Democrats reportedly believe they have picked up new votes in favor since the fallout from the failed gun vote. Senators from both parties who were against the measure have been taken to task publicly by gun control advocates and family members of gun violence victims.
Gersh says she was particularly troubled by the McConnell campaign bragging about the gun bill's defeat in a Facebook post that mocked Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.
She says besides the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the recent shooting death of a 2-year-old girl in southern Kentucky should change McConnell’s mind.
"It is not something to celebrate and people who have lost loved ones to gun violence are not celebrating. And as President Obama said it was really a very dark day for Americans that politics could be more important than the lives of our children," says Gersh. "It made a lot of people angry, and it really minimized the importance of this issue."
In a statement to WFPL, however, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton says the senator’s support for Second Amendment rights will not waver.
"Senator McConnell respects the right of all Americans to speak their mind, but he is committed to defending the second amendment rights of all Kentuckians," he says.