NORTH CAROLINA -- The shootings in El Paso and Dayton are inspiring new calls for action on Capitol Hill.
- Democratic leaders, in particular, are pushing for the Senate to take up legislation aimed at tightening background checks on gun purchases.
- The House passed the background checks legislation earlier this year, but it has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
- Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis individually rank in the top five in terms of spending by the NRA.
Democratic leaders, in particular, are pushing for the Senate to take up legislation -- already passed by the House -- aimed at tightening background checks on gun purchases.
The House passed the background checks legislation earlier this year, but it has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Early Monday, President Donald Trump himself tweeted about what he called “strong background checks,” suggesting they could be tied to legislation on immigration reform -- both are hot button, divisive issues on Capitol Hill.
However, during his remarks from the White House later Monday morning, Trump did not mention background checks.
In a statement, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer said that shows the president is a “prisoner to the gun lobby and the NRA.”
The National Rifle Association has long been a player on the national political stage.
Compared with the more than 500 lawmakers on Capitol Hill, North Carolina’s two senators are among the top beneficiaries of the NRA’s political spending.
Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis individually rank in the top five in terms of spending by the NRA, according to numbers compiled by The Center for Responsive Politics. The money came largely in the form of outside spending aimed at supporting the candidate or attacking their opponent.
Over the course of his career, the NRA has spent nearly $7 million helping Burr. They have also spent roughly $4.4 million benefiting Tillis.
“With Tillis’s  race, for instance, you had a really high stakes race, with a lot of money pouring in, so it made sense for certain outside groups to get involved,” said Anna Massagolia with The Center for Responsive Politics. “In other cases, guns are just a hot button issue - in particular in states like North Carolina where you have a variety of different political perspectives.”
Spokespersons for both Tillis and Burr did not respond to requests for comment on what the senators think should happen legislatively - if anything - after the weekend’s attacks.
Democratic leaders are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call the Senate back from August recess to pass the background check legislation. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, is pushing for new ‘red flag’ legislation.
Over the weekend, Burr tweeted that his “prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders who rushed to help.”
Tillis tweeted that he is “heartbroken” by “acts of hate and domestic terrorism targeting our fellow Americans.”