(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, called it “inconceivable” that Congress did not pass “significant” gun control legislation after the slaughter of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut ten years ago.
“Every single time, after one of these mass shootings, there’s talks in Washington, and they never succeed,” Murphy told ABC’s “This Week.”
“But there are more Republicans interested in talking about finding a path forward this time than I have ever seen since Sandy Hook. And while, in the end, I may end up being heartbroken, I am at the table in a more significant way right now with Republicans and Democrats than ever before.
“Certainly, many more Republicans willing to talk right now than were willing to talk after Sandy Hook.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has asked Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, to negotiate some kind of gun restrictions with Democrats.
McConnell told CNN last week, “I have encouraged him (Cornyn) to talk with Sen. Murphy and Sen. Sinema and others who are interested in trying to get an outcome that is directly related to the problem. I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution,” McConnell said last Thursday.
President Joe Biden on Sunday was asked if he believes the bipartisan negotiations will accomplish something — or if it’s “just making noise.”
“Look, I don’t know,” Biden said, “but I think there’s a realization on the part of rational Republicans — and I think Senator McConnell is a rational Republican; I think Cornyn is as well. I think there’s a recognition in their part that they — we can’t continue like this. We can’t do this.”
Biden talked about “rational” gun laws and “rational action” back in 1994, when the ban on “assault” weapons passed.
But while Murphy advocates such a ban, that apparently is not part of the bipartisan discussions he’s having.
“We have continued to work throughout the weekend,” Murphy said on Sunday.
“I was in touch with Senator Cornyn and Senator Toomey, other Republicans and Democrats yesterday. These are serious negotiations. And we are going to continue to meet through early next week to try to find some common ground.
“Now, listen, I’ve been clear, I’m not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Of course I would love to ban assault weapons. I think that’s the — probably most impactful way to stop these mass shootings. I would love universal background checks. That’s the best way to try to curb the level of violence that happens in my city of Hartford and other cities like it across the country.
“But what we’re talking about is not insignificant. Inside this room we’re talking about red flag laws, we’re talking about strengthening, expanding the background check system, if not universal background checks. We’re talking about safe storage.
“And, yes, we’re also talking about mental health resources and more security dollars for schools. A package that really, in the end, could have a significant downward pressure on gun violence in this country and break the logjam.
“Maybe that’s the most important thing we could do is just show that progress is possible and that the sky doesn’t fall for Republicans if they support some of these commonsense measures.
“We’ve got a short timeframe, Jonathan. We’ve got to get this ready for Congress when Congress reconvenes in about a week. But I think we can do it.”
Host Jonathan Karl asked Murphy if raising the legal age to purchase a gun is part of the discussion:
“Yes, I think that — right now we’re having, I think, a discussion inside this room about the profile of the current mass shooter, which, as you mentioned, does tend to be young men in between the ages of 18 and 21. That is a profile that does not allow you to buy a handgun but does allow you to buy an assault rifle.
“And so there are discussions happening in these room about how they recognize this profile and maybe make it a little bit harder for those individuals to quickly get their hands on weapons,” Murphy said.
“I don’t yet know exactly what’s possible, whether the votes are there to raise the age, but we’re having a discussion about what we do about that specific profile. And it’s an encouraging conversation.”
Murphy also praised a law passed in Republican-led Florida after the Parkland high school shooting. “It raised the minimum age…for long guns from 18 to 21,” Karl said. “It imposed a three-day waiting period. It banned bump stocks. It improved background checks.”
Karl asked Murphy, “Couldn’t that be a model? I mean if (then-Governor) Rick Scott (R) could sign that into law in Florida and support that in Florida, why couldn’t that pass in the United States Senate?”
“The Florida law is a good law, and it’s a signal of what’s possible, right?” Murphy said:
“It married together changes to Florida’s gun laws with some significant investments in mental health and school security.
“And I, you know, had a long conversation with Senator Scott last week, and had him tell me the story of how they were able to pass that legislation and get Republicans to support it.
“It also proved that Republicans could take on the gun lobby, because the NRA opposed that measure, and still get re-elected, which has been the case I’ve been making to Republicans for a decade.
“So that kind of legislation certainly is a model. Significant, not everything that anti-gun violence advocates would want, and while I don’t think we will mirror the Florida law, it certainly is the kind of thing that would make a big difference and would make a lot of families and kids in this country feel more secure and more safe if at passed at a national level.”
Murphy also advocated spending more money — a lot more money — on ways to reduce violence in America’s big and increasingly lawless cities:
“So the president’s domestic agenda includes significant money, $5 billion, for urban anti-gun violence initiatives, violence interruption programs.
“And I think we’ve got to remember that gun laws is a big part of the solution, but we also have to have, in these poorer neighborhoods, services wrapped around kids and families that need them.”
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