Lawrence calls for Senate to pass background check bill

State Sen. Jeremy Moss, U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence and Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter | Ken Coleman

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) is calling for Congress to return to Capitol Hill for a vote on legislation aimed at reducing gun violence, and for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring it to the Senate floor.

Lawrence told a pro-choice women’s rally last week in Ferndale that the National Rifle Association has pressured Congressional Republicans to reject H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. The House passed the bill 240-190 in February, with eight Republicans joining almost every House Democrat.

“Where is Mitch?” Lawrence asked rhetorically last week. 

Brenda Lawrence
U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence at the Ferndale rally | Ken Coleman

“We have sent to the Senate some basic, common sense gun control bills that are supported in every poll, by 80% of America, but he will not bring it forward,” Lawrence said. “Mitch McConnell has said publicly, ‘It’s my job to do whatever the president of the United States wants.’ ”

H.R. 8 establishes stricter background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties. McConnell, however, has refused to bring the legislation to a vote in the Senate, part of his strategy as the self-proclaimed “grim reaper” for Democratic-passed House legislation.

“Gun violence in the United States will continue to be an issue until we can all agree it is a national epidemic,” Lawrence added. “Over the last 35 years, we have experienced some of the deadliest mass shootings in our country’s history. These senseless acts of violence are taking the lives of nearly 100 Americans each day.”

Lawrence also challenged President Donald Trump to act in the aftermath of recent deadly mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. 

“As members of Congress, we have a responsibility to protect the people of the United States, however, we are dealing with an administration that refuses to acknowledge that hateful words have consequences,” Lawrence said. “Enough is enough — Americans across the country are demanding gun reform, and it is past time for Congress to act.”

The three-term lawmaker and chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues isn’t the only Michigan member of Congress to call for stronger gun control measures in recent days. 

Mike DeWine
Mike DeWine

All seven of Michigan’s House Democrats called for a vote last week, as did U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.). Even Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled a new “red flag” bill similar to those introduced by Michigan Democrats in the wake of last week’s shootings.

Lawrence said she believes that H.R. 8 is imperative for the safety of Americans across the country.

“There’s absolutely no reason for any American citizen to have an assault weapon. I know people who hunt,” Lawrence said last Friday. “There is never an assault weapon out when you’re hunting. We should ban assault weapons. There’s no way around that.”

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here