Mitch McConnell Backs Gun Talks After Texas School Shooting
Category: News & PoliticsVia: vic-eldred • one month ago • 0 comments
WASHINGTON—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) threw his support behind bipartisan talks on legislation to address mass shootings, following the deaths of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Mr. McConnell told reporters Thursday that he had met with Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) and asked him to meet with Democrats to see if an agreement can be reached. He didn't indicate what kind of legislation he might back.
“I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre,” Mr. McConnell said. “I’m going to keep in touch with them, and hopefully, we can get an outcome that can actually pass and become law rather than just scoring points back and forth.”
Many Democrats have been focused on gun restrictions in the wake of the latest school shooting , while Republicans have emphasized school safety measures. But some areas of potential compromise exist, including so-called red-flag laws, expanded background checks and more mental-health resources. Red-flag laws allow courts to temporarily take guns from people deemed dangerous.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has backed efforts by Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) to hold talks with Republicans over the Memorial Day recess. In the 50-50 Senate, Democrats would need at least 10 GOP votes to advance any legislation if they remained united.
Earlier Thursday, Mr. Schumer sounded skeptical notes in a speech on the Senate floor, pointing to a past pledge by Mr. McConnell to debate red-flag laws and background checks after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, three years ago, but the Republican leader never brought any bills to the floor.
“But that’s not an excuse for Democrats not to try,” Mr. Schumer said. “This is too important not to explore every option.”
Mr. Schumer said he is willing to give Mr. Murphy and Democratic colleagues time to negotiate with Mr. Cornyn and other Republicans, but he said that isn’t an invitation to talk indefinitely.
“If these negotiations do not bear fruit in a short period of time, the Senate will vote on gun safety legislation,” Mr. Schumer said.
Mr. Murphy, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, held an organizational meeting with GOP lawmakers on gun violence Thursday for about 25 minutes. The Republicans there were Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
Mr. Murphy said senators from both parties would be meeting throughout the day Thursday, before the chamber leaves for a weeklong recess.
“I was just trading ideas and trying to figure out if there’s space for common ground,” said Mr. Murphy, a leading proponent of gun control in the Senate. “We’ve got to do something together, something significant, but I also know that we’re not going to be able to do everything at once.”
width="1" height="1"> He added: ‘I’m hopeful there is growing momentum. But I have failed plenty of times before.”
Some Republicans say they are opposed to any bills restricting guns.
“I’m the father of a fourth grade teacher. I want to see ways to make the schools safer,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.). “I don’t think gun control is the answer.”
In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday after returning from visiting the scene of the deadly Texas school shooting , Mr. Cornyn said he looked forward to participating in discussions with Mr. Murphy and other Democrats.
He recalled that he had worked with Mr. Murphy successfully on a bill former President Donald Trump signed into law in 2018 that required federal authorities to alert state and local law enforcement when a person banned from purchasing and possessing firearms under current law tries to buy a firearm.
The bill was negotiated after it emerged that the man who shot and killed 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017 was able to purchase an assault-style rifle because of a lapse in the background-check process.
“I’m not interested in making a political statement,” Mr. Cornyn said Thursday. “I’m actually interested in what we can do to make the terrible events that occurred in Uvalde less likely in the future.”