Senate GOP Indicates Firearm Regulation Readiness

Following back-to-back incidents of gun violence, Senate Republicans are prepared to resume gun violence legislation talks with Democrats.

As gun control pressure mounts on Capitol Hill after the killings, Republican leaders have invited bipartisan discussions on red flag legislation and background checks. 

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters on Thursday that he invited Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who just came home after a gun massacre in Uvalde, to bipartisan talks.

Measures and Initiatives

Several GOP leaders said they want bipartisan conversations, but oppose plans that diverge from gun violence. 

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said, “I think we should at least listen to each other and see if there’s a way ahead to find real solutions.” 

Last week, after a racist shooting in a primarily black area in Buffalo, New York, 10 people died. 

Democrats think more Republicans are interested in a compromise after the Texas shooting that killed 19 kids and two teachers. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who has led bipartisan sensible gun control talks with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), estimated Thursday that six to 12 Republicans “expressed genuine interest.” 

Everytown for Gun Safety determined 19 states have laws preventing people with a high risk of injuring themselves or others from briefly acquiring firearms. 

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) attempted to impose background checks for all gun commercial sales. 

Toomey told The Hill a red flag measure is “possible,” but a “difficult” lift. 

Last week, Manchin said he and Toomey’s proposal, which exempts certain friend-and-family exchanges, has the best chance of passing the 50-50 Senate.

He observed the Senate “can’t even get” the 2012 measure introduced, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 

As discussions have gained momentum, Manchin has looked more upbeat about a potential deal, telling reporters it’s “encouraging” to see bipartisanship. Manchin said, “This feels different.” 

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said McConnell’s latest comments offer “a glimmer of hope” while Cornyn “helped uncover the final background check fix.” 

Cornyn and Murphy collaborated on legislation to enhance the National Instant Background Check System after the 2017 church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The following year, former President Trump signed the measure into law. 

Red Flag Laws

Other possibilities include incentivizing states to implement red flag laws. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) presented a bipartisan measure with the same goal after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy in Parkland, Florida in 2018.

Recently, Rubio informed The Hill on Thursday that he talked extensively to Durbin and Thune about the issue. 

Thune told reporters “it’s better to promote [states] than keep coming up with a federal obligation.”

Murphy indicated Thursday he’s “trying to figure out what’s doable” in conversations with Republicans, which will go through recess. 

Other Democrats aren’t optimistic about a compromise. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said Thursday she doesn’t think Senate Republicans are ready to tackle gun violence until she sees it. 

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) noted the slowness of gun legislation after mass shootings.