‘Starting to Get a Little Concerned:’ Senate Gun Control Talks Hit Snag

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
June 15, 2022 Updated: June 15, 2022

Negotiations in the Senate on a gun control agreement have hit a roadblock over two issues as a bipartisan group tries to take a framework they recently agreed upon and translate it into a bill.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the lead Republican negotiator, told reporters on Capitol Hill on June 15 that he’s “starting to get a little concerned” as the group tries to iron out details, including funding for states that have so-called red flag laws in place.

The framework includes funding for states and Native American tribes to create and administer laws that make it easier to bar people from owning guns. Nineteen states currently have such laws, which typically center on mental health issues and are known as red flag laws.

Cornyn said on The First TV on Wednesday that it would be “inappropriate” to incentivize other states to pass similar laws. States that do not have such laws in place, including Texas, should be able to get financial assistance for other programs, according to the Republican. Some states with red flag laws should not get access to the funding because their laws are not in compliance with the Constitution, Cornyn indicated.

There are also disagreements on another provision, an effort to make sure people convicted of domestic abuse and those subject to domestic abuse restraining orders cannot have guns.

A law known as the Federal Gun Control Act bars people convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun, but it does not apply in some cases if a person commits the violence against their boyfriend or girlfriend.

“The other issue has to do with the way that nontraditional relationships are handled in terms of domestic violence and misdemeanors. We’ve got to come up with a good definition of what that actually means,” Cornyn told reporters in Washington.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told reporters that there are more than two issues the bipartisan group of negotiators is working on, including a planned bolstered review for any individuals under 21 who are trying to get a gun.

Determining which records the FBI can review for those individuals “is obviously a complicated issue,” Murphy said, and negotiators want to “do this in a way that protects sealed juvenile records.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), another negotiator, said the bipartisan group is “doing great.”

“We’re working through all the language. Things are good,” she told reporters.

Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has tapped Murphy to lead negotiations for the party, said on the Senate floor that senators “continue negotiations over the legislative text on the first major gun safety bill to pass the Senate in 30 years.”

In the wake of many mass shootings, no legislation is passed. “Perhaps this time, hopefully this time, it will be different. Many in this chamber are working right now in hopes that it will be different,” Schumer said, adding that “we’re not over the finish line yet.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.