Pressure mounts on Senate to act on gun safety amid Republican resistance

Pressure is mounting on the US Senate to act on gun safety in the wake of the Uvalde and Buffalo massacres, as Republican intransigence continues to stand in the way of all but modest reforms.

On Wednesday the House of Representatives passed a package of gun safety measures designed to staunch the disaster of mass shootings. The extent of Republican resistance was underlined by the fact that only five out of 208 House Republicans voted for the legislation.

Related: Uvalde survivor, 11, tells House hearing she smeared herself with friend’s blood

Now the focus – and with it the anger of victims’ families and gun safety advocates – turns to the Senate. With the chamber divided 50-50, and 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster, there is no chance of Democrats passing any changes unless they can bring Republican leaders with them.

As compromise talks continue, there are tentative hopes that a deal might be in the offing. But the outcome is likely to be dictated by Republican refusal to contemplate anything other than limited steps.

The most promising proposals under discussion include plans to increase resources for mental health treatment, school safety provisions and money to encourage states to introduce “red flag laws” that remove guns from those who might harm themselves or others.

On Thursday a group of more than 220 CEOs from some of the biggest brands in the US sent a joint letter to the Senate in which they lamented what they called the “public health crisis” of gun violence. “We urge the Senate to take immediate action … Transcend partisanship and work together to pass bold legislation to address gun violence in our country,” the letter said.

Among the signatories were business leaders of some of the most familiar corporations, including Levi Strauss & Co, Lyft, Unilever US, Yelp and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss, said in a statement that it was time for senators to act. “Inaction on federal legislation has made gun violence a uniquely American problem,” he said.

Gun safety groups are also piling on the pressure on the Senate. Kris Brown, president of the Brady campaign, pointed out that the Senate has sat on legislation to tighten federal background checks on gun sales for the past 15 months.

“That’s 15 months of lethal inaction,” he said.

The most visceral cries for something to be done are coming from relatives of those who died in the recent massacres. Kimberly Rubio, the mother of Lexi, 10, who was killed in last month’s mass shooting in Uvalde elementary school in Texas, told a House committee this week that it was time for a ban on assault rifles of the sort used to murder her daughter.

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