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Protesters Urge McConnell To Hear Universal Background Check Bill

Ryland Barton

Protesters gathered outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office in Louisville Tuesday evening to urge him to take up legislation to combat gun violence.

The rally came in the wake of deadly shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend.

Hollan Holm is a survivor of the deadly 1997 Heath High School shooting in Paducah, when a 14 year-old open fire on a group of praying students, killing three.


At the rally, Holm said that he’s tired of politicians only offering “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings.

“I remember thoughts and prayers being offered up on Heath High School’s behalf 22 years ago by politicians. Thoughts and prayers were not enough to stop the violence then,” Holm said.

“Senator, I was shot in a prayer group, what is your plan B?”

McConnell is facing pressure to have the Senate vote on legislation to address gun violence after last weekend’s deadly shootings.

Protesters were specifically calling for McConnell to take up a bill that would expand background checks for gun purchases.

McConnell issued a statement Monday saying that “Senate Republicans are prepared to do our part” on addressing the issue. But in the past, he has avoided supporting legislation that restricts gun purchases.

He said that that Republicans would consider “potential solutions to help protect our communities without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights.”

State Rep. Charles Booker, a Democrat from Louisville, encouraged rally-goers demand action from McConnell, or else vote him out.

“All I ask is that we quit being ignored by the person who was supposed to represent us in the United States Senate. We will not be ignored anymore,” Booker said.

Congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, said that McConnell has become an “anarchist” because he refuses to address climate change, election security and gun violence.

“What they’re basically doing is abdicating their responsibility in a major national crisis. To me that’s promoting anarchy,” Yarmuth said.

Many attendees expressed hopelessness about the likelihood that McConnell would allow any legislation restricting gun purchases to get a vote in the Senate.

Marsha Tinsh, retired teacher from Louisville, said that she didn’t have any confidence McConnell would take up the issue, but that it was important to put pressure on him

“I’d be very surprised if he puts it forward. There’s too many people in Kentucky that vote for him that want the gun laws to be more lenient,” Tinsh said.

Capri Beck, a 22 year-old from Louisville, expressed hope that her generation would help solve the issue.

“We don’t like the violence, we don’t like what’s happening, we don’t like seeing all the hatred and the ugliness that’s going around us. We want to bring positivity, we want to make change,” Beck said.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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