‘It’s About Human Life’: Family Of Buffalo Mass Shooting Pleads With Lawmakers For Effective Gun Legislation

Tuesday, June 7th 2022, 10:22 pm


Federal lawmakers continue to work toward passage of some form of gun safety legislation in the wake of a string of deadly mass shootings and with the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday warning Americans of the potential for copycat gun violence. 

DHS issued a terror threat bulletin, warning that some extremist online forums are actually encouraging attacks that mimic the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, “[seizing] on the event to attempt to spread disinformation and incite grievances, including claims it was a government-staged event meant to advance gun control measures." 

In the Senate, where a bipartisan bill still in negotiation appears to have the best chance at becoming law, Senators heard impassioned pleas for action Tuesday from family members of the Tops grocery store shooting in Buffalo. 

“I am asking, pleading that the Senate do all that they can, the Congress do all that it can,” urged Kimberly Salter, whose husband Aaron Salter, Jr., the store’s security guard, was among the ten people killed in the shooting. “It’s not about Republicans, it’s not about Democrats, it’s about people, it’s about human life!” 

"My mom did not deserve the death that she had," said Pamela Pritchett, whose 77-year-old mother Pearl Young, a Sunday School teacher and food pantry volunteer, was also killed. "I promise you every tear I cry will be fuel for action." 

The calls for action from victims were matched Tuesday by Senate Democrats, who say they're tired of Republicans offering 'thoughts and prayers', but nothing that might actually prevent the next mass shooting. 

"We don’t really want thoughts and prayers," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-NY), Majority Leader, "we need votes, we need action." 

And action appears to be getting closer. Questioned by reporters Tuesday, lead Republican negotiator Sen. John Cornyn said consensus on this issue takes time, but suggested expanded background checks and a red flag measure could be in the final bill. 

"I think focusing on concerns about mental health and on people with criminal background records is an obvious area where I think we can work together," said Sen. Cornyn (R-TX). 

Cornyn's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, also indicated they are making real progress. 

"We have to pass legislation that saves lives, none of us should be interested in just checking a box," Sen. Murphy said Tuesday afternoon. "But I'm encouraged by the discussions that we have had with Republicans over the course of the last week and a half. Every day we get closer to an agreement, not further away." 

Democratic leaders in the House, meanwhile, continued pushing their more sweeping package of gun bills. Last week, the Protecting Our Kids Act was advanced, on partisan lines, out of the House Judiciary Committee and Tuesday it went through House Rules, where ranking member Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) sharply criticized the move. 

"While our colleagues in the Senate are working together and actually negotiating on a package that has a chance at becoming law," Rep. Cole said in a prepared statement, "the majority today is putting forward messaging bills that stand no chance of passing the Senate and no chance of becoming law." 

Measures in the package include raising the age to purchase certain guns from 18 to 21 and banning the manufacture and sale of high-capacity magazines, 

Cole seemed to blame the shootings on "a widespread mental health crisis." 

"The growing number and frequency of mass shootings," Cole stated, "are a reminder that our country must take a comprehensive public health approach to gun violence that addresses culture, mental illness, gun safety and regulations that also respect the Second Amendment."