NORTH CAROLINA -- Several North Carolina mayors are demanding action after the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend left more than 30 people dead.
Five North Carolina mayors joined more than 200 mayors from across the country in signing a letter to U.S. Senate leaders, asking them to return to Capitol Hill to take action on two bills strengthening background checks for gun purchases.
“Those are both really common sense kinds of gun legislation,” said Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, who is among the mayors signing the letter. “This is something that we can all agree with: that these shootings are terrible, they’ve gotten out of control."
Mayors from Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, and Kinston also signed the letter.
The House passed the two background check bills in February. So far, the Senate has not taken any action.
“It is true that a better background check system won’t stop every problem that we have with gun violence, but it’s an important step and we really need to take it,” said Durham Mayor Steve Schewel.
So far, Senate Republican leaders are resisting mounting calls to end August recess early.
However, in a local radio interview Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed some willingness to consider gun measures, saying background checks and so-called ‘red flag’ proposals could be part of the discussion when they return to Washington.
Since the shooting, some Republicans have focused on more modest measures like those ‘red flag’ laws. They allow authorities to temporarily take weapons from individuals considered to be a threat to themselves or others.
“The president supports this, he’s working with Sen. Blumenthal from the Democratic conference and I expect us to be able to take action,” said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, on Monday.
Meanwhile, in recent days, President Donald Trump has publicly toyed with support for background checks.
“I don’t want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate - sick people. I’m all in favor of it,” he told reporters Tuesday.
This is not the first time the president has publicly expressed support for background check measures - he did so after the shooting in Parkland, Florida as well.
However, earlier this year, the White House released a veto threat for both of the background check bills passed by the House - the same bills the mayors are currently pushing for.