President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass gun safety measures last week in the wake of deadly shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y., and elsewhere, but he’ll need Republican support if he wants anything to pass.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., believes lawmakers will be able to get something done now because “there are more Republicans at the table talking about changing our gun laws, investing in mental health than at any time since Sandy Hook,” he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I think the template in Florida is the right one,” Murphy said, of bipartisan measures that passed there after the Parkland shooting. “Do some significant mental health investment, some school safety money and some modest but impactful changes in gun laws.”
“That’s the kind of package I think can pass the Senate,” Murphy said.
Murphy is in bipartisan talks with lawmakers including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Cornyn told the New York Times whatever they come up with “has to be incremental,” and measures Biden floated including a federal assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine limits and raising the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 are off the table. Cornyn said the group is exploring the possibility of allowing juvenile records to be available in a background check.
Cornyn has the backing of more than 250 Republican donors and self-described gun enthusiasts who signed an open letter published Sunday in the Dallas Morning News encouraging the senator. The letter called for expanding background checks, passing red flag laws, and raising the minimum age to buy a firearm.
“Most law enforcement experts believe these measures would make a difference,” the letter read. “And recent polls of fellow conservatives suggest that there is strong support for such gun-safety measures.”
Cornyn’s Texas Republican colleague Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blasted Biden’s proposals, tweeting that he “chose to double down on hard-left divisive politics,” while the National Rifle Association called Biden’s response “not real leadership” in a statement.
“[I]nstead of acting on functional measures and real solutions that when implemented will reduce crime and will help those with dangerous behavioral health issues, all that the president repeatedly proposes will only infringe on the rights of those law-abiding who have never, and will never, commit a crime,” the NRA said. “This isn’t a real solution, it isn’t true leadership, and it isn’t what America needs.”