Parkland, Miami mayors lobby Washington for background check bills

The mayors of Parkland and Miami flew to Washington Monday to participate in a bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors delegation lobbying for bills in the House and Senate for universal background checks on gun purchases.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky flew to Washington early Monday ahead of a 2 p.m. meeting at the White House. The delegation — which Suarez said is comprised of nine mayors — is meeting with President Donald Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, the director of his Domestic Policy Council, Joe Grogan, and perhaps others, according to an itinerary.

The delegation also plans to meet Tuesday with members of the U.S. Senate, including Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

The meetings come on the day Congress returns from a six-week break, with Democrats vowing to make bills that expand background checks, limit magazine size and create a nationwide “red flag” law priorities in the coming days.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors sent an Aug. 8 letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urging the Senate majority leader to pass gun safety legislation following mass shootings that occurred in a 24-hour stretch in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Both Hunschofsky and Suarez signed the letter.

“After the shootings that took place in El Paso and Dayton, there was a renewed sense of urgency,” said Hunschofsky, a Democrat and Parkland’s mayor in February 2018 when 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and faculty were killed by a gunman carrying a semiautomatic rifle.

The mayor of Dayton, Democrat Nan Whaley, was also part of the delegation.

Suarez, a Republican and one of 13 trustees for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said he’s comfortable lobbying for two background-check bills passed by the U.S. House because they propose modest controls that make communities safer without infringing on the Second Amendment.

“They wanted to put together a bipartisan coalition, so I was asked to come up,” Suarez said. “Mass shootings have obviously increased in intensity and frequency. Every city is concerned.”