A bipartisan group of senators hoping to find common ground on gun policy plans to continue talks this week following the tragic elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
The Senate is not in session this week during the Memorial Day recess, but lawmakers plan to meet remotely. Republican Senator John Cornyn told reporters in his home state of Texas on Monday that the group of senators will meet on Zoom on Tuesday “to try to see if we can agree on a basic framework for how we are going to forward “.
The Texas Republican has been approached by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to engage in bipartisan gun reform talks. Cornyn said Monday that many gun reform issues should be discussed at the state level, but that he thinks “there are some things we need to do, and I think we can do that.” do, at the national level”.
“I mentioned that access to mental health treatment and diagnosis is absolutely essential,” Cornyn said, adding that Covid-19 had isolated many young people during “an important period of social development”.
He also said background checks should also be a national conversation. Cornyn noted other “possible limitations under federal law on the type of firearms you can buy, own, and maintain, whether you have a criminal or mental health record,” and said, “we let’s look at all of that.”
It is far from clear that the bipartisan effort will amount to anything given the highly polarized political environment. Entrenched partisan divisions have led to an impasse over gun policy in Washington for years.
Most laws require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. As a result, Senate Democrats, who control only 50 seats, would need at least 10 Republicans to pass any type of gun measure.
But lawmakers are under intense pressure to act in the wake of the elementary school shooting, which shocked the nation and caused a massive public outcry.
A gunman fatally shot 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24. The horrific event is the deadliest school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut in 2012.
The Texas school shooting led to immediate calls from Democratic lawmakers for gun control measures. Some of the measures Democrats have called for include expanded background check bills and red flag laws, which can allow law enforcement or family members to seek a court order to remove temporarily the firearms of a person considered to be at significant risk of harming themselves or others by having a firearm.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed optimism that there might be a chance to find common ground, but it is not yet clear if there will be a political solution on which Democrats and Republicans will be able to get along given the widespread opposition of many GOP members to tougher policy. arms control.
Cornyn said that in negotiations he will “try to lean forward and meet my colleagues across the aisle halfway.”
“One thing that I hope doesn’t happen is that the different parties kind of fall back into their typical talking points,” he added. “I hope we will try to look at what has happened with lucidity and ask this question: what can we do to solve this problem? And if we cannot fix it, what can we do for the to improve ? ”