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Lawmakers pressure Trump on gun safety laws

November 18, 2017 - 9:58pm

HONOLULU — Citing recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, a group of state senators is urging President Donald Trump and congressional leaders to pass “commonsense gun safety laws” to “keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

Oahu Sens. Donovan Dela Cruz, Breene Harimoto, Donna Mercado Kim and Glenn Wakai recently sent a letter with their concerns to Trump, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Dela Cruz is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee; Kim is chairwoman of the Government Operations Committee; and Wakai is chairman of the Economic Development, Tourism and Technology Committee.

“Too often the conversation surrounding gun violence frames it as unavoidable, senseless violence perpetrated by unstoppable, dangerous people. This is simply untrue,” the senators wrote. “There are steps we can take right now to make all Americans safer and to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

Last month in Las Vegas, a 64-year-old gunman opened fire on a crowd at a country music festival, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more. Earlier this month in Sutherland Springs, a 26-­­ year-old man gunned down 25 worshippers, including eight children and a pregnant woman, at a church service.

“As policymakers, we are in a critical position to make these horrible tragedies less common,” the letter said. “As elected officials, we have the power to make substantive changes to our gun laws that can and will save lives, and we have a duty to prevent harm.”

The senators called on congressional leaders to support federal legislation requiring universal background checks on all firearm sales, and banning so-called bump stocks, which are used to modify firearms so they fire almost as rapidly as automatic weapons.

The lawmakers pledged to also address gun violence in Hawaii, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

“We are also ready and willing to enact sensible policies at the state level to pass responsible, commonsense solutions to preventing gun violence,” they wrote.

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