Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut advance as they work out details of the reviewthat they both hope they can win enough GOP support to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, according to four people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly.
Graham and Blumenthal later confirmed in statements to CBS News that their talks were progressing.
In recent days, the pair have had frequent phone calls and worked closely together to review a ‘red flag’ bill they co-sponsored in 2019, making revisions they believe may enable a proposal. similar and modified to win broad support in the divided Senate, the four people told CBS News.
At this point, their updated proposal would focus on establishing federal grants for states to create or strengthen “red flag” laws. A “red flag” law, in most cases nationwide, allows law enforcement officials to temporarily seize firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others , if a court order allows them to do so.
The remaining challenge for Graham and Blumenthal is to craft legislative language on due process and judicial review that doesn’t put off wary Republicans, while not appearing to sweeten their original bill too much and frustrate Democrats.
A person familiar with the discussions said Graham and Blumenthal were working on terms that would be acceptable to both sides, particularly regarding the time between a court order based on “extreme risk” evidence and a hearing. The scope and type of evidence required is also discussed.
In the past, the National Rifle Association has not forcefully opposed the suggestion of “red flag” laws, but it remains broadly opposed to any new gun restrictions.
Still, the people said the two men believe their efforts on “red flag” laws and their early movement toward consensus could become a central part of a possible final legislative product from the bipartisan gun talks. by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. , of Connecticut, and Republican Senator John Cornyn, of Texas.
Talks led by Murphy and Cornyn began after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School inwhich killed 19 children and two adults.
“Lindsey and Richard get along well and talk to outside groups about what they do,” one person said. “They were on the phone all weekend and had a few people come over.”
A second person familiar with the discussions said the “trust” between Graham and Blumenthal was helpful, but did not signal that a 60-vote consensus was in sight at this stage, whether on red flag legislation or in other areas. The person named Cornyn as the key senator to watch on the GOP side.
Graham and Cornyn are widely seen by their colleagues as key allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the longtime Republican leader.
Currently, 19 states allow a judge to remove a firearm from anyone who poses an extreme risk to others or themselves. In Connecticut, for every 10 to 20 firearms removed, one life is saved, according to one study. In California, there have been at least 21 instances where a “red flag” law has disarmed people threatening mass shootings.
On Tuesday, Blumenthal declined to discuss the deliberations or details of his discussions with Graham. But in a statement to CBS News, Blumenthal said, “Lindsey has worked very hard and in good faith, and we have made progress.”
Graham also declined to discuss his private exchanges with Blumenthal and others. But he confirmed that progress was being made.
Cornyn and Murphy, along with Democratic Senator from Arizona Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator from North Carolina Thom Tillisto discuss possible gun legislation on Tuesday.
In a statement after that meeting, Cornyn said, “Senators Murphy, Sinema, Tillis and I had a very constructive conversation about the best response to the horrific events in Uvalde last week. We have asked our staff to continue working together to go over some of the details that we hope to be able to discuss soon.”
On CBS NewsOn Sunday, Murphy, whose home state suffered the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a decade ago, said he knows Republicans won’t support anything he does. But “red flag laws are on the table,” along with expanding background checks and other efforts like safe gun storage.
Red flag laws have long been seen by proponents of changing gun laws as the most viable option in a deeply divided Washington.
“‘Red flag’ laws reduce the risk of gun violence,” Dr. Celine Gounder, public health editor of Kaiser Health News, told CBS News. “It might not work 100% of the time, but if you can save even a fraction of those lives, it has a real impact.”
Adriana Diaz, Alicia Hastey, Rebecca Kaplan, Kathryn Watson and Andy Wolff contributed.