Two high profile freshmen House members publicly clashed Wednesday over the issue of background checks for purchasing guns and being able to lend out firearms, a fight that previews just one part of the polarizing debate over gun control awaiting members of Congress when lawmakers return from recess next week.
The exchange followed Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas sending a tweet linked to a Houston-based ABC affiliate story that reported on an incident where a woman shot and wounded a suspected robber who attempted to grab her purse.
“With universal background checks, I wouldn’t be able to let my friends borrow my handgun when they travel alone like this. We would make felons out of people just for defending themselves,” Crenshaw wrote in the tweet.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York replied to the tweet with, “You are a member of Congress. Why are you ‘lending’ guns to people unsupervised who can’t pass a basic background check? The people you’re giving a gun to have likely abused their spouse or have a violent criminal record, & you may not know it. Why on earth would you do that?”
The exchange comes as congressional Democrats have been attempting to put pressure on Senate Republicans to take up and pass a background checks bill that the Democratic-controlled House passed earlier this year. The push comes in response to a series of mass shootings that have shocked the nation while lawmakers have been back in their congressional districts for a summer recess period. Both chambers will come back into session next week.
After shootings in El, Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump suggested that he was looking into the possibility of passing background checks. But the President has since publicly backed away from that. In more recent comments, the President appeared to defend existing US gun control measures, saying, “We do have a lot of background checks right now.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that he will not put a gun bill of any kind on the Senate floor unless the President says he would sign it into law.
Crenshaw pushed back on Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, saying, “Just so I’m clear: you think my friends are domestic abusers/criminals? Seriously that’s your argument? That they can’t pass a background check? Wrong. People lend guns to friends, esp if they don’t own a gun, for self-defense and hunting purposes. This is America outside NYC.”
In response to the ABC news story, Crenshaw wrote in his initial tweet, “Situations like this story are why we protect the 2nd Amendment.”
Ocasio-Cortez later followed up to say, “You said w/ universal background checks, you wouldn’t be able to ‘lend’ guns to friends. If a background check would be a problem, then you shouldn’t ‘lend’ a gun. And btw, NY is one of the safest states in the country when it comes to guns, incl rural areas. Try to keep up.”
CNN’s Nikki Carvajal and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.