Senate Democrats gathered Thursday on the steps of the Capitol surrounded by about a dozen armed guards to announce a new push for tougher gun-control laws.
The officers from the U.S. Capitol Police, who carried sidearms, were in addition to the regular detail paroling the Capitol ground due the large number of elected officials attending the event, according to a officer on the scene.
About 27 Democratic senators attended the event.
They announced a set of priorities for combating gun violence, which centered on measures to expand and strengthen background checks for gun purchasers.
They echoed calls by President Obama following the mass shooting last week at a community college in Oregon in which he urged Americans to put pressure on lawmakers to take action to stop the scourge of gun violence in the country.
“We are asking, as the president said, to make their voices heard,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, “We expect there will be a groundswell.”
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The Democrats’ priorities for gun control, which also closely mirrored the plan rolled out last week by Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, included:
*Closing background check “loopholes,” such as stopping criminals from buying firearms at gun shows or online;
*Improving background checks to include barring domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns;
*And shutting down the “illegal gun pipeline” by making straw purchasing of guns and gun trafficking a federal crime.
“The victims and their families deserve better than a Congress that shrugs its shoulders and waited for the next tragedy,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat. “They deserve action.”