WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined a group of Democrats in signing a letter to U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday calling on him to hold hearings on universal background checks legislation, which is supported by 97% of Americans. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. The Senate counterpart bill, the Background Check Expansion Act, is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House also passed the Enhanced Background Checks Act, a bill aimed at closing the “Charleston loophole” in the background check system that made it possible for the gunman in Charleston’s AME Church in Graham’s home state to purchase a firearm.
“We know that universal background checks save lives, and we know that 97% of Americans support them. We noted with interest your statement in the press that you intended to have the Committee work on ‘red flag’ legislation and potentially also background checks, both actions we would strongly support,” the Senators wrote. “We respectfully request that you hold a hearing on this critical legislation as soon as possible.”
Joining Cardin and Van Hollen in signing the letter are U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hasan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
The text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Chairman Graham:
Last week, in a huge bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, by a vote of 240-190.
A similar bill, S. 42, the Background Check Expansion Act, is currently pending in the Judiciary Committee. Statistics demonstrate that universal background checks save lives, and polls show that 97% of Americans support the implementation of these checks. We noted with interest your statements that you intended to have the Committee work on ‘red flag’ legislation and potentially also background checks, both actions we strongly support.
As cosponsors of S. 42, we respectfully request that you hold a hearing on this critical legislation as soon as possible.
Thank you for your consideration.