The top Republican negotiator for the Senate’s newly unveiled gun control bill signaled on June 22 that the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) opposition to the bill did not matter.
“We worked with the NRA to listen to their concerns. But in the end I think they have a membership and a business model that will not allow them to support any legislation,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.
“And so I understand where they’re coming from, but I think most people will not allow any outside group to veto good public policy,” he added.
The 80-page legislative proposal, which drew initial support from 14 Republicans and all Democrats, would alter federal law on gun ownership for those convicted of domestic violence, add funding for so-called red flag laws, and intensify background checks for people under 21 trying to get a firearm.
The NRA said it would support legislation “that improves school security, promotes mental health services, and helps reduce violent crime” but that the group opposes the proposal “because it falls short at every level. It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners.”
“This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians. This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overbroad provisions—inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms,” the group added.
All Democrats and nominal independents are poised to support the bill when it is voted on this week, while Republicans are divided on the proposal.
Cornyn and other GOP members involved in the negotiations, including Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), voted to advance the legislation to the final vote, and are expected to support the bill during the final vote.
Others are on the fence, including Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who voted no in the procedural vote.
“We just got the text. I want to review it, I think details matter,” Scott told reporters at a breakfast in Washington on Wednesday.
“I am not interested in taking away somebody’s Second Amendment rights. I do believe in state’s rights. I believe states ought to be where most things happen because up here, as you know, once something passes it is very difficult to change it. At the state level, it’s much easier to change things, and so I think we have to be very cautious about doing things nationally,” Scott added. When he was governor of Florida Scott signed a gun control bill after the mass shooting in Parkland.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), another no vote, said on Twitter that the legislation “ignores the national crime wave & chips away instead at the fundamental rights of law abiding citizens.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), though, joined Cornyn in defending the bill.
The bill will “protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said on the Senate floor, while not “touch[ing] the rights of the overwhelming majority of American gun owners who are law-abiding citizens of sound mind.”