Mayor Bill Peduto to lobby U.S. Senate for vote on gun bills
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto one month ago challenged the U.S. Senate and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass gun regulations within 30 days, including a ban on military-style rifles.
It didn’t happen.
Peduto and mayors from other cities victimized by mass shootings will head to Washington on Monday to confront Senate leaders as they return to work after their August recess.
“We had called on the Senate to reconvene during its recess,” Peduto said. “They chose not to. They go back into session on Monday, and I intend to be there with other mayors whose cities have suffered through mass homicides conducted with assault-type rifles to welcome them back to Washington and to call on the immediate action now that they have returned.”
The mayor and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon, said in separate interviews Thursday that they want the Senate to vote on bills passed by the House in February. The bills would require background checks on all commercial gun sales and extend by 10 days the amount of time firearms dealers must wait for a response from the background check system before a sale can proceed.
“I think the mayor’s challenge is really issued to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate, because those bills have sat on his desk with no action for months,” Lamb said. “We’re trying to get him to take those up as quickly as possible.”
The Kentucky Republican did not act on calls for a special Senate session following recent shootings in Dayton and El Paso, but has said he would call for vote on gun control legislation as long as President Trump supports it. The president recently said that any gun control measures must balance public safety with the Second Amendment.
Peduto said he plans to meet with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, who supports universal background checks, to see if they can “find common ground.”
Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly the senator has a “solid working relationship” with Peduto and confirmed the pair would meet next week. The senator told Tribune-Review news partner WPXI-TV on Thursday that there is momentum in Congress to expand background checks and that would be on the “top of his agenda” starting Monday.
“I intend to meet directly with Sen. Toomey, and we’ll be meeting with other leaders in Washington while we’re down there, ” Peduto said. “I have a good relationship with Sen. Toomey and we can talk very openly about things we disagree on and try to find areas where we do agree. I just feel that while I’m down there it would be beneficial to be able to sit down face-to-face and discuss it.”
The mayor said he continues to call for an assault rifle ban.
“I would prefer that, and that would be my hope, but there are two bills sitting in committee right now that nobody is voting on,” he said. “If you’re going to vote them down, vote them down, but vote. Don’t play politics with this. People deserve to see which side they’re on.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .