Sen. Durbin: 'We've Got to Be Realistic About What We Can Achieve'

( – Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Sunday, “it’s time for us to do something” about gun crime, and he expressed cautious optimism that now is the time: “I sense a different feeling among my colleagues after Uvalde,” Durbin told ABC’s “This Week.”

“America is sick and tired of political excuses,” he said. But he also said, “We have got to be realistic about what we can achieve.”

Durbin is among the many Democrats pushing for an “assault” weapons ban, although he admitted that is “not likely to occur” as part of a compromise with Republicans:

“The question, I think, the real challenge is whether the Republicans will step forward and show courage, political courage, in a very tough situation. There will be some. And I will do everything I can to encourage that.

“We, as Democrats, have a different view of the issue. We have to be looking for that compromise that makes things better.”


Host Dana Bash asked Durbin what such a compromise might look like:

“Well, you mentioned a red flag, a person who has demonstrated the kind of conduct that is threatening or worrisome, to alert law enforcement officials early, to deal with this whole straw purchasing issue,” Durbin said.

“We lost a policewoman in Chicago, Ella French, last year to a straw purchase, a gun purchased by someone without a criminal record, handed it over to a criminal, and killed this wonderful policewoman and seriously injured her partner.

“That sort of thing, enforcing straw purchasing, these are all small, but important and lifesaving steps. How many of those can we bring together on a bipartisan basis?” he asked.

Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking in Buffalo on Saturday, called for an assault weapons ban.

Durbin noted that the 1994 ban on a broad range of semi-automatic weapons expired “years ago,” in 2004.

“And, unfortunately, in the meantime, there’s been a dramatic increase in purchases of these weapons,” he said.

“The AR-15 that was used by this individual in Uvalde, there are now 20 million of those owned by Americans across the nation, just to put it in perspective,” Durbin said.

“So, we have got to be realistic about what we can achieve. But there is absolutely no excuse, in my mind, for a military assault weapon to be sold to an 18-year-old with a backpack of ammunition, who walks in and kills these innocent children. That’s just unacceptable anywhere in the world.

“It’s unforgivable that, as American leaders, we let this occur here.”

Durbin said “both sides” must be willing to “compromise” for anything to get done. “And the American people are sick and tired of political excuses.”

Durbin said he’s in touch with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) who is holding bipartisan talks on gun restrictions with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

“I said to Chris, and I offered to Senator Cornyn, if you can make progress between you, if you can move us forward, don’t worry about the committee jurisdiction. Do the right thing and do as much as you can do.

“And let’s join together, if we can, on a bipartisan basis to show the American people that what happened in Uvalde was not in vain — that sadness and tragedy in that small town has been felt across America.

“We have to respond to it with something positive that shows America we care.”


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