A group that engages young people on gun-violence issues is releasing a report card that assesses whether members of Congress are co-sponsoring gun-control bills.
The group, Team Enough, gives pass, fail or incomplete grades to lawmakers based on whether they co-sponsored one of three bills in the House or four in the Senate. Team Enough is the youth group of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The House legislation pertains to gun-violence restraining orders, background checks and an assault-weapons ban. The Senate bills involve gun-violence prevention orders, risk protection orders, expanding the background-check system and an assault-weapons ban.
Kris Brown, Brady’s co-president, said measuring co-sponsorship rather than support is necessary in a gridlocked Congress.
“This is an issue where the only way in this current Congress to actually move legislation forward is by putting pressure around the co-sponsorship,” Brown said. “With the current leadership, you’re not going to have bills come to the House floor for consideration unless there is a groundswell of support for them.”
Brown said it is fitting that a student group is giving lawmakers a report card.
“I’m graded and judged at whether or not I put my work in, and I stand behind the work that I do,” Brown said. “Why shouldn’t we also issue report cards on members of Congress?”
The report card exempted leadership in both houses. On the Senate side, 15 members received passing grades, 28 got an incomplete — typically meaning they co-sponsored a few but not all of the bills — and 50 lawmakers failed. Of those who received passing grades, all but one, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), were Democrats. Among those who received failing grades, there were 43 Republicans and six Democrats.
In the House, 124 lawmakers received passing grades, 81 got an incomplete and 226 failed.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who received a passing grade, said he believes Congress needs to pass an assault-weapons ban, a measure requiring universal background checks for all weapons purchases and legislation barring high-capacity magazines.
“Too many families have been torn apart by horrific gun violence, and Congress has a responsibility to take action to prevent more of these senseless tragedies,” he said in a statement.
On Thursday, members of Team Enough were lobbying on Capitol Hill. They included junior Ricky Pope, who organized a walkout from Miami Northwestern Senior High School after four students were shot, two fatally, in a neighboring subdivision.
“We wanted to have Congress step up to the plate, give them a report card and measure their relationship with the American people,” Pope said. “People need to be judged on the merits of the things they do.”
Robert Schentrup’s sister, Carmen, was one of 17 people killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February. Schentrup, a student at the University of Central Florida, helped plan Orlando’s March for Our Lives demonstration in March and is planning events for Welcome Week at his college in the fall.
The goal of Team Enough, Schentrup said, is to help people in different communities push for gun-violence prevention in a way that resonates where they live — the response in Parkland, he said, is different from that in Chicago and different from that in Santa Fe, Tex., where a student fatally shot 10 people at his school last month.
Schentrup said the report card is a straightforward way to know where elected officials stand.
“We can put pressure on those representatives who may have said they support gun-control legislation,” he said, to ensure “they’re willing to put their pen where their mouth is.”