Texas school shooting: Crucial week for possible gun control bill after decades of no major federal action

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A group of key senators plan to meet on Tuesday to discuss a possible bipartisan compromise on gun control, at the start of what could be the most crucial week for gun control legislation in decades. decades.

“I’ve seen more Republican interest in coming to the table and speaking this time than at any time since Sandy Hook,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said on “Face the Nation.” CBS this week. “It’s true, you know, Republicans aren’t willing to support everything I support, like banning assault weapons. But I really think we could pass something that saves lives and breaks this blockage that we have had for 30 years.”

Murphy and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are in preliminary talks, which come after 21 people, including 19 children, were gunned down last week at Robb Elementary School in Cornyn’s home state. Discussions will likely focus on possible modest legislation on background checks or the encouragement of national red flag laws.

Senator John Cornyn leads a bipartisan Senate group considering a possible compromise on gun reform.
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Senator John Cornyn leads a bipartisan Senate group considering a possible compromise on gun reform.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Meanwhile, Democrats — deeply suspicious that there will be enough GOP votes to get a deal through the Senate — are already preparing a slate of bills for votes in the House, and possibly the Senate. , to pressure Republicans into action. But Cornyn told reporters in Texas on Monday that he hoped there would be room for some level of agreement, as long as both sides come forward in good faith.

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“I will do what I have always done, which is to try to lean forward and meet my colleagues across the aisle halfway, especially on matters involving seriousness. and how serious it is,” Cornyn said during an appearance in San Antonio.

Senator Chris Murphy speaks from the Senate after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Senator Chris Murphy speaks from the Senate after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
(Senate Pool Video)

“We already have these discussions in person and on the phone and we look forward to meeting on Tuesday via a Zoom call to try to see if we can agree on a basic framework on how we move forward. “, added Cornyn. “One thing that I’m hoping doesn’t happen is that the different sides kind of fall back into their talking points.”

Tuesday’s meeting is expected to take place sometime in the afternoon.

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Democrats view the next week, or possibly two, as the keystone to any bipartisan deal. They complain that despite several mass shootings in recent years, particularly since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, there has been a lot of talk about gun reform but very little action.

Murphy said last week he would not let Republicans drag out talks for an extended period if it was clear that a deal that could pass the Senate with 60 votes was not likely.

“I won’t negotiate forever,” Murphy told reporters last Thursday at a gun control rally outside the Capitol. “So if we can’t make progress by the end of next week, then I will say to Senator Schumer, it’s time to vote.”

But any compromise is likely to face an uphill and difficult battle.

Rene Lucero and his wife, Alva, visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 31.

Rene Lucero and his wife, Alva, visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 31.
(AP/Jae C. Hong)

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Thursday that there were six to 12 Senate Republicans seriously considering gun legislation, “beyond general expressions of interest.” If that number doesn’t increase significantly, the margin of error for Republicans who can pull out of the talks becomes extremely slim.

A Republican Senate aide tells Fox News Digital that the talks are a “good sign of bipartisan progress” and that having Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., backing them increases their chances of hit. But, the aide said, “10 votes on the Republican side will be tough.”

Another Senate GOP aide said the leadership is giving room for senators leading the talks, but “it’s all going to come down to the details…any deal that gets Rs 10 will require threading the needle.”

A third Senate GOP aide expressed optimism about the prospects for successful negotiations, citing the fact that Cornyn and other Republicans with Second Amendment credibility are involved.

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“We are acutely aware that the overwhelming majority of gun owners are law abiding,” the aide said. “We will therefore focus on a few discrete areas where improvements can be made – not on a whole bill that will end up in a pile of legislative trash.”

Democratic lawmakers say following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, several Republicans appear willing to support some form of gun legislation.

Democratic lawmakers say following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, several Republicans appear willing to support some form of gun legislation.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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But no matter what, Murphy told activists at last week’s Capitol Hill gun control rally, the Senate will vote on gun bills.

“We’re going to force people to tell America which side they’re on,” Murphy said.

The House of Representatives, on the other hand, does not wait for the Senate to act. The House Judiciary Committee is planning a meeting Thursday to prepare a slate of gun control bills for the House floor, Fox News confirmed. Punchbowl News first reported the news.

Among the issues the bills will address will be an increase in the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, a ban on new high-capacity magazines, tighter regulations on ghost guns and more.

“Failure to take action to address gun violence after witnessing a mass shooting that killed twenty-one people, including nineteen schoolchildren, is not an option,” he said on Tuesday. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Fox News. “I am encouraged by the bipartisan conversations in the Senate on legislation that could save lives by taking long-overdue steps to address gun violence. Additionally, I announced that the House will pass legislation to create a national law “Red Flag” to ensure that those who pose an immediate threat to themselves or others are not able to possess a firearm.”

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The ban on assault rifles is notably not included in the list of bills. Legislation on this can be difficult to pass, with Democrats holding a narrow margin and many in tight re-election races. A senior Democratic official said conversations about future bills beyond what the Judiciary Committee is considering, including an assault weapons ban, are “ongoing” and that they “hope every member will see the urgency of this situation”.

It is also highly unlikely that any of the bills will pass the Senate. But quick action in the House — including a possible vote next week — can be seen as a tool to pressure senators into reaching some sort of deal.

Fox News’ Lakita Atkins and Aishah Hasnie contributed to this report.

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