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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Senate goes on recess with faint promise of bipartisan path on guns

The Washington Senate on Thursday left the city for its Memorial Day holiday and renewed push for gun control after the devastating elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Before the senators headed to the airport, a small group met to begin work on a bipartisan federal response to help stop the mass shootings—something they didn’t get to do for a decade.

With pessimism at its high, Democrats are clear on whether they are likely to convince enough Republicans to accept legislation addressing gun violence, which they have blocked in the past. Lawmakers say gun violence victims and their families deserve another try, no matter how wide-ranging the gun divide in Congress is.

“We need at least a week to deal with these difficult issues. Frankly, sometimes, it’s easier to work on those issues outside of Washington when we’re here,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told senators Thursday on legislation to stay in the city and expand. Said in response to the call to vote. Background checks on gun purchases as soon as possible.

“If we don’t succeed, we’re getting votes. We’re putting people on record,” Murphy vowed at a rally with gun control activists outside the Capitol.

The Senate is not scheduled to return to Washington until the week of June 6. Congress rarely does anything unless there is a sense of urgency, and activists fear the death of 19 children and two teachers could put a halt to the momentum gained for gun reforms. Texas, as well as the racially motivated shootings in Buffalo, New York last week, in which 10 people were killed.

A bipartisan group of senators including Murphy, Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), Kirsten Cinemas (D-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) began meeting this week View Whether there is any room for a deal. Possible solutions include more stringent background checks, proposals to strengthen school security, different age requirements for the sale of federally licensed firearms, and “red flag” laws that allow authorities to temporarily allow the seizure of firearms that are found to be a danger to others or to themselves. ,

Graham told reporters Thursday that the group is discussing creating a federal grant program to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws. Many states already have such laws on the books. But a federal “red flag” law is not on the table, Graham said.

“The idea seems to the Republicans that they will end the clock here.”

— Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

“Red flag statues are proven to save lives. They save thousands of lives,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Previous attempts to find a common ground on gun reform have repeatedly failed. The most recent one was led by Murphy and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and focused on closing loopholes in the gun buyer background check system. Last year it stopped. After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, three years ago, Republicans held similar conversations about proposing background checks and “red flag” laws. They didn’t go anywhere.

Republican leaders are keeping their powder dry to a minimum this time around. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters he had encouraged his members to participate in talks with Democrats.

One idea Democrats have discussed is setting higher age requirements for federally licensed firearm sales. Federal law allows gun dealers to sell shotguns and rifles to children under the age of 18, while prohibiting the sale of handguns to those over the age of 21. The shootings in Texas and Buffalo were both carried out by 18-year-olds using assault rifles.

But most Republicans are skeptical about adjusting the age limit. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told HuffPost, “When you’re 18 you’re able to serve our military and put your life on the line for our country.”

Manchin, who has failed to convince GOP senators to vote for anything proposed by Democrats, sounded an optimistic note when leaving the Senate on Thursday.

“It just feels different,” he said. “It should never be open season on the kids.”

Not every Democrat was as confident about the prospects for a bipartisan agreement on gun legislation.

Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told HuffPost, “The idea for Republicans seems to be that they will end the clock here.”

“They want to talk about 10 other topics, they want to indulge in finger-pointing and the blame game, but at the end of the day, they don’t want to deal with gun violence,” Warren said. “Unless we get some Republicans in the Senate who are willing to face that problem, we’re not going to make any real progress on this.”

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