The Republican-controlled Senate’s refusal to move House gun reform bills is “unconscionable,” Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.) said in Morristown on Monday, as the nation mourned 31 people killed in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend.
“The government’s response has to be to get gun safety legislation passed,” said Sherrill, a Navy veteran who backs legislation to ban semi-automatic weapons like the ones used this weekend.
“We’ve got to get these weapons off the streets,” Sherrill told MorristownGreen.com, after touring Morristown’s Zufall Health Center to mark National Health Center Week.
Video: Mikie Sherrill: ‘These are weapons of war’
“These are weapons of war…assault weapons and the bullets in them are meant to shred the human body. The horror of some of these mass shootings is found in the emergency rooms afterwards, from the doctors who find it really hard to save a lot of people because of the damage done to their organs.”
Dozens of people were wounded in El Paso, Dayton, and in Gilroy, CA, at a garlic festival where three people were killed on July 28, 2019.
The shooter who slayed 22 people Saturday at an El Paso Walmart and the Gilroy shooter used variations of the AK-47 assault rifle, USA Today reported.
The man who took nine lives in Dayton early on Sunday attached a 100-drum magazine to a .223-caliber rifle, and was carrying 250 rounds with him, according to police. All these weapons could be purchased legally, USA Today reported.
Asserting that “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” President Trump instead called for a crackdown on violent video games, along with revamped mental health laws and “red flag” laws to make it easier to confiscate weapons from persons considered dangerous.
Speaking at the White House on Monday morning, Trump also called for swift imposition of the death penalty for mass killers.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”
The President blamed the internet and social media for enabling deranged individuals to spread hatred. He did not address critics’ claims that his tweets have emboldened such individuals.
In El Paso, the shooter is believed to have posted an anti-immigrant manifesto moments before his shooting spree.
The first bill Sherrill endorsed since taking office in January, HR-8, calls for universal background checks for gun purchases.
She also has supported bills to ban sale of assault-style weapons, and to eliminate the so-called boyfriend- and Charleston loopholes — quirks in existing laws that can enable firearms purchases by stalkers and others who legally should be barred from buying guns, like the mass shooter who fatally shot nine church members in Charleston, S.C., in 2015
Passed by the House, these reforms “just come to a brick wall when they are sent over to the Senate. (Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell has got to get these bills on the floor,” Sherrill said.
Asked about growing Democratic pressure to launch impeachment proceedings against the President following former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony last month, Sherrill, a former federal prosecutor, said she needed more evidence.
Video: Rep. Mikie Sherrill on the impeachment question:
“We are moving forward in I think a very thoughtful way. We had Mueller testify. We’re now in the courts to get (former White House Counsel Don) McGahn’s testimony” about possible obstruction of justice by Trump during Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“I’ve looked at this, I haven’t heard from all of the witnesses, which I would do as a prosecutor,” Sherrill said.
“I’ve certainly seen a lot of summaries of the evidence. I’ve heard from some of the witnesses. So as a prosecutor, we’re moving forward in a way that I think other prosecutors, such as (House Intelligence Committee Chair) Adam Schiff, are very comfortable with, and are very confident in the procedure.”
Sherrill spent about an hour touring the Zufall Health Center, a nonprofit that provides low-cost health- and dental services to the disadvantaged and to veterans.
A light moment came when the Congresswoman, accompanied by Zufall officials and state Health Department Deputy Commissioner Deborah Hartel, paid a visit to a kids healthy cooking class in the Zufall Wellness Center next door.
As the children prepared fruit tarts, Sherrill asked them what middle school they will attend this fall.
“Frelinghuysen,” a girl replied.
“Oh, that’s, wow…” Sherrill said, as the adults broke into laughter. “That’s a very prestigious name in our state.”
Frelinghuysen Middle School is named for the family of Rodney Frelinghuysen — the 12-term Republican who opted to retire rather than face Sherrill in last year’s election.
A lighter moment: Sherrill gets surprise answer from kids at wellness cooking class: