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President Joe Biden praised two “rational Republican” senators on Tuesday he said were ready to sign on to new federal gun control legislation following recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., earlier in May and Uvalde, Texas, last week.
In particular, Biden noted that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas have indicated they would support working with Democrats to craft new gun bills.
“I think there’s a realization on the part of rational Republicans — and I consider McConnell a rational Republican, and Cornyn is as well. I think there’s a recognition on their part … that we can’t continue like this. We can’t do this,” the president told reporters after returning to the White House on Monday.
Biden has vowed to do something to further restrict access to firearms, but he did note that he has limitations as president.
“But I can’t outlaw a weapon. I can’t, you know, change the background checks,” he said. “I can’t do that.”
As such, he is looking for assistance from Republicans, who are 50-50 in the Senate where Democrats control with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote.
Cornyn has already been tasked by McConnell to open negotiations with Democrats on new gun legislation though nothing has emerged as of yet. Anything that Democrats want will pass in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi enjoys a narrow majority.
The Hill reports that talks are ongoing.
“We’re already having those discussions in person and on the phone. Look forward to meeting on Tuesday through a Zoom call to try to see if we can agree on a basic framework about how we go forward,” the Texas Republican told reporters in San Antonio last week.
On the Democrat side, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has been designated the lead negotiator and has said he hoped to have some sort of framework for a legislative deal by this week.
Meanwhile, The Hill added, that 8 Republican senators in all met last week to help organize the discussions. They include retiring Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania along with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. Bill Cassidy — who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump following the Capitol riot — of Louisiana.
Democrats, of course, would like to see new gun legislation — in the form of restrictions on guns — emerge.
“My hope is that this time is different. I get it. Every single time, after one of these mass shootings, there are talks in Washington and they never succeed. But there are more Republicans interested in talking about finding a path forward this time than I have ever seen since Sandy Hook,” Murphy told ABC News, referring to the 2012 school shooting in his home state.
In the House, meanwhile, other never-Trump Republicans are also leaning in with Democrats. That includes Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, elected with the ‘Tea Party’ wave during Barack Obama’s presidency who has since been increasingly siding with Democrats. Over the weekend, he said his views on banning so-called “assault weapons” has changed.
Not only does the retiring congressman favor that now, but he also told ABC News that “raising the age of gun purchase to 21 is a no-brainer” — despite the fact that 18-year-olds can join the military or be drafted.
“If you look at the Parkland shooting, you look at Buffalo, you look at this shooting, these are people under the age of 21. We know that the human brain develops and matures a lot between the age of 18 and 21,” Kinzinger said. “We just raised — without really so much as a blink — the age of purchasing cigarettes federally to 21.”
The Western Journal adds:
Along with the push to raise the age required to buy a gun, Democrats are also hoping to enact a national “red flag” law, Axios reported. That would allow law enforcement to temporarily seize guns from someone who is considered a danger to others or themselves.
Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws.
Murphy said that increased background checks, safe storage requirements, more security money for schools, and mental health resources also might be on the negotiating table, ABC News reported.