Nineteen House Republicans on Friday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on a bill that pushes for stronger background checks on those seeking to buy firearms, a little more than a week after the deadly school shooting in Florida.
“Background checks are the first line of defense in law enforcement’s efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and those deemed dangerously mentally ill,” Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), one of the signers of the letter to Ryan, said in a statement.
The 19 Republicans calling on Ryan for action are largely centrist and are vulnerable in their bids for reelection this fall.
The letter refers to a bill that was proposed last year after a fatal shooting at a Texas church that left 25 people dead. The bill focuses primarily on background checks, but conservatives are unwilling to back it unless it includes so-called concealed-carry legislation backed by the National Rifle Association.
A bill that grouped the two proposals passed the House in December, setting up a potential fight with Senate Republicans. House GOP leaders have promised that the concealed-carry provision won’t be removed, meaning the bill would actually loosen gun restrictions instead of strengthening them.
The letter concludes that the bill would improve communication between state and local agencies when handling background checks.
“Let us pass this legislation next week and take an important step toward making our Country safer from gun violence,” the letter reads.
The long-running debate over reducing gun violence has taken on extra momentum since a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. Students around the country have mobilized in an effort to pressure President Donald Trump and lawmakers to do more to protect schools and prevent attacks.