Top Democrat Senator: ‘Serious’ Bipartisan Negotiations on Gun Control Underway

Top Democrat Senator: ‘Serious’ Bipartisan Negotiations on Gun Control Underway
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 27, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters)
Jack Phillips

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Sunday that bipartisan negotiations on possible gun legislation are now underway, coming days after a mass shooting in Texas that left 21 dead.

Speaking to ABC News, Murphy, an ally of President Joe Biden, said that possible legislation includes expanding the federal gun background check system, red flag laws, and laws around storing weapons.

“We’re talking about red flag laws. We’re talking about strengthening and expanding the background check system, if not universal background checks. We’re talking about safe storage. And yes, we’re also talking about mental health resources and more security dollars for schools,” Murphy said, claiming that their bill “could have a significant downward pressure” on shootings.

“Maybe that’s the most important thing we could do is just show that progress is possible and that the sky doesn’t fall for Republicans if they support some of these commonsense measures,” he said.

Several days ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) directed Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to lead GOP negotiations with Democrats, including Murphy. After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) were involved in efforts to pass gun control legislation.

When asked by CNN last week about red flag laws, background checks, or other measures, McConnell stated that he told the Texas senator “to meet with the Democrats who are interested in getting a bipartisan solution and come up with a proposal, if possible, that’s crafted to meet this particular problem.”

Red flag laws refer to gun control measures that allow police or, in some cases, family members to petition a state court to order the removal of a firearm from an individual. More than a dozen states already have passed red flag rules. But opponents have said that red flag laws have deprived individuals of their civil liberties and their Second Amendment rights.

In a separate interview Sunday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, told CNN that “I can tell you I sense a different feeling among my colleagues after Uvalde,” referring to the shooting.

Officials identified 18-year-old Salvador Ramos as the lone shooter who shot and killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. They said Ramos legally purchased several firearms after his 18th birthday.

Amid the talk of new legislation, Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday called for an “assault weapons ban,” although it’s not clear what she meant.

“We are not sitting around waiting to figure out what the solution looks like. You know, we’re not looking for a vaccine. We know what works on this,” Harris told reporters near Air Force One, adding: “Let’s have an assault weapons ban.”

“You know what an assault weapon is? You know how an assault weapon was designed? It was designed for a specific purpose–to kill a lot of human beings quickly. An assault weapon is a weapon of war with no place, no place in a civil society,” she continued to say.

However, critics of such legislation have suggested that “assault weapon” is a nebulous term with no clear definition.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, wrote over the weekend: “A gun is a gun is a gun when it comes to those commonly available to civilians. ‘Assault rifles’ (as gun opponents have broadly defined) are no more/less deadly than other avail firearms. ’Assault rifles’ (full automatic fire kind you likely mean) already banned/highly restricted.”

“In truth, anti-gun activists seek severe restrictions on, and oppose in concept, any individual civilian RIGHT to own ANY firearm, even though it is an inalienable right specifically recognized in the U.S. Constitution under the Second Amendment. This is the debate,” Fitton said.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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