U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood is promoting gun legislation now stalled in Congress, hoping to pressure Senate Republicans into action.
Underwood, D-Naperville, convened a gathering Sunday at Batavia City Hall, where she met with local elected officials and gun violence prevention advocacy groups.
The freshman lawmaker, representing the state’s 14th Congressional District, was promoting two pieces of legislation that would toughen background checks on gun purchases.
Both bills, approved by the House earlier this year, are stuck because Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to call them for a vote, Underwood said.
“We need to dial up the pressure on Mitch McConnell,” Underwood said. “We don’t want to live in a country where kids are afraid to go to school.”
One of the bills would effectively close the so-called “gun-show loophole,” preventing any person who is not a licensed firearm importer, manufacturer or dealer from transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person without a background check. Exceptions would include gifts to family members.
The other bill would extend the waiting period for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System from the current three days to 10 days for an answer of approval or denial. Under existing law, the transaction may proceed on a default basis if there is no determination from NICS within three business days.
“Background checks are bipartisan,” Underwood said. “There are no excuses. We can’t wait.”
Asked what it might take to get McConnell to move the gun legislation, Underwood replied: “The American people speaking out boldly and loudly.”
After the meeting, Underwood stood outside the city building, backed by members of Moms Demand Action and March for Our Lives, along with a survivor of the Feb. 14, 2008, mass shooting at Northern Illinois University, which left five dead and 21 wounded.
“We’re just sick and tired of seeing this happening,” NIU shooting survivor Patrick Korellis said, urging voters to contact their elected officials.
Korellis carries more than memories of the attack. Now 33, Korellis still has shotgun pellets in his body, one in his neck just below the skull, another in his left arm. Korellis said he has met with fellow mass shooting survivors, including those from Parkland, Florida, and Littleton, Colorado.
“I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Korellis said. “It has changed my life as far as realizing to never take life for granted.”