Independent U.S. Senate candidate Evan McMullin called on Sen. Mike Lee to “break from partisan extremes” and get behind the bipartisan gun safety proposal unveiled in the Senate this week.
McMullin said in a brief news conference via Zoom on Monday that he supports the proposal as a common-sense plan to protect children, families and gun rights.
“After years of gridlock and division, certain Democrats and Republicans are breaking with the extremes in their parties to get something done,” he said.
A group of 10 Democratic and 10 Republican senators, including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, announced a framework Sunday for legislation that includes resources for states to implement red flag laws, investment in mental health treatment and school security, and an added level of scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21.
McMullin said he appreciates Romney’s leadership on the issue.
“I’m calling on Utah’s other senator, Mike Lee, to do the right thing and join his colleague. Sen. Lee needs to break with special interests and partisan extremes to support this important proposal,” he said.
Lee, R-Utah, said in a tweet Sunday that he looks forward to reviewing the legislation.
“I will always stand on the side of the Second Amendment, law-abiding Americans, due process, and justice. Those who commit acts of rampage violence are criminals who must be stopped,” he said.
Lee has started referring to McMullin as a “liberal” in recent emails seeking campaign contributions.
“My opponent might be endorsed by the Democrats and embracing their socialist agenda — but he’s raising MILLIONS OF DOLLARS and I need to pick up the pace,” Lee said in a fundraising email Monday.
McMullin said he wants to see more Republicans, Democrats and independents consistently find common ground and offer solutions on guns, inflation and health care costs, among other issues.
“This, and more, is what’s possible if we stand up to the extremes and replace self-serving politicians like my opponent, Sen. Mike Lee,” McMullin said.
McMullin would only see Lee in a general election. Lee faces two Republican challengers, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom, in a primary election this month.
Edwards said in a tweet that the bipartisan plan is an important framework to address violence in schools and communities.
“I’m pleased to see collaborative efforts on this issue and look forward to continued action that will save lives,” she said.
Isom said the Senate proposal is a meaningful step in the right direction for bipartisanship, for gun safety, and for states.
“I applaud the efforts of those at the table and recognize we still have work to do. I’m hopeful leaders on both sides of the aisle put politics aside to find common-sense solutions. We aren’t there yet, but we are on the right path,” she said.
McMullin said the approach to gun violence must be multifaceted as outlined in the proposal. Good ideas are coming from both sides of the aisle, so it’s not an either-or proposition, he said.
“I don’t think that any one of those reforms will completely solve every problem,” he said. “I don’t think the combination of those reforms also will solve every case. ... But I think what you have here is an important step forward that I think can make a difference.”
Americans, he said, are demanding a sensible set of solutions that will protect lives and rights.
The proposal would provide resources for states to create red flag or extreme risk laws but does not require them.
McMullin said he would like to see red flag laws administered at the state level.
“We’re still sort of considering the best way to do this, to keep weapons out of the hand of violent people,” he said. “But I think part of that is allowing states to figure out what works best in their jurisdictions and for the federal government to support those efforts.”