One Republican senator and one Democratic senator are hoping they can find some common ground on gun reforms that will garner enough Republican support to pass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead.
Republican Senator John Cornyn and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy will meet virtually on Tuesday to “see if we can agree on a basic framework” about how to go forward on gun legislation proposals, according to an aide to Cornyn. An aide to Murphy confirmed the senator “is participating in tomorrow’s meeting and will be holding meetings throughout the week.”
Their offices are not specifying if other members will join this bipartisan attempt at considering areas of agreement on gun reforms. The White House declined an invitation from CBS News’ “Face the Nation” to have a member of the administration join the show Sunday, saying they were leaving it up to Congress to act, moderator and senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan told viewers Sunday.
President Biden told reporters on Monday it’s hard to say what one element Republicans might support because he hasn’t been negotiating with any of them yet. The president spent Sunday in Uvalde, Texas, grieving with the family members who lost loved ones.
“Look, I don’t know, 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,” Mr. Biden told reporters on the White House South Lawn on Memorial Day. “I think there’s a recognition in their part that they — we can’t continue like this. We can’t do this.”
The president also criticized high-capacity magazines, saying it “makes no sense” to be able to purchase something that can fire hundreds of rounds, and bullets that have a greater capacity to kill. But Murphy said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that he thought it’s “unlikely that we’re going to be able to get 60 votes for that.”
Mr. Biden said he once asked a trauma doctor why people seem to be dying more from gunshot wounds versus 20 or 25 years ago, and the doctor, according to the president, responded: “‘A .22-caliber bullet will lodge in the lung, and we can probably get it out, may be able to get it, and save the life. A 9mm bullet blows the lung out of the body.'”
“So the idea of these high-caliber weapons is of — there’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of thinking about self-protection, hunting,” the president told reporters Monday. “I mean, I just — and remember, the Constitution, the Second Amendment was never absolute.”
Murphy also said on “Face the Nation” that Republicans “are not willing to support everything that I support, like banning assault weapons.”
“But I really think that we could pass something that saves lives and breaks this logjam that we’ve had for 30 years, proving to Republicans that if you vote to tighten the nation’s gun laws, the sky doesn’t fall for you politically, in fact, you probably will get a lot of new additional supporters,” Murphy continued. “So red flag laws are on the table. Background checks, expansion and on the table, as well as things like safe storage of guns. I think we can get something done, but we don’t have a lot of time.”
John Feinblatt of Everytown for Gun Safety said Monday that he is “hopeful” that there are “genuine bipartisan discussions going on.”
“Will it fix everything? No. Will it, could it be a significant start? Absolutely” Feinblatt said. “And so I’m hopeful. And we certainly will be there encouraging senators on both sides of the aisle to do the people’s business. As I say, the american public isn’t asking for much. They’re asking to live in a country, where they’re free to go to the grocery store free to go to church free to go to school, free to walk the city streets in a country that is known for freedom. I think the least that the Senate could do would be meet the American public.”
After mass shootings in 2019, then-President Trump in August 2019 said he wanted “very meaningful background checks.” That never came to be. Days later, he said the U.S. already has “very, very strong background checks.”
Congress is out of session this week for the Memorial Day holiday, so the Senate won’t be voting on legislation before then.