McConnell Blesses Gun Control Negotiations Between Dems, GOP

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is encouraging bipartisan conversations about gun control legislation in the aftermath of a Texas elementary school shooting that killed 21 people, including 19 children.

I’ve encouraged him to talk to Sen. Sinema, Sen. Murphy and others who are interested in trying to get an outcome that’s directly related to the problem. I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre,” McConnell told CNN of Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn’s interest in red-flag legislation. Cornyn, a long-time McConnell ally, served as GOP Whip from 2015-2019 and could likely convince enough Republicans to support a bill to overcome a filibuster.

Red-flag laws, or extreme risk protection orders, allow law enforcement officials to seek court orders for the purpose of temporarily seizing firearms owned by individuals who appear to be at risk of committing violence. The shooter in Uvalde, Texas repeatedly posted pictures of guns on social media, and cut his face with knives. Police were dispatched to his house on several occasions. (RELATED: Texas Gunman Was In The Classroom For Half An Hour Before Law Enforcement Stormed In. Why?)

Several Republican senators have previously expressed interest in red-flag laws, which have been passed in 19 states and Washington, D.C., according to the left-wing Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott introduced a bipartisan red-flag law with Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed and Independent Maine Sen. Angus King in 2021, although it has not passed out of committee. Scott signed similar legislation as Governor of Florida in 2018 in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting.

“I think that is the kind of law that could have made a difference in this case, since … it appears that he suffered from mental illness,” Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins said Wednesday of red-flag laws. “It’s my understanding that he bought his weapon legally and passed a background check, so I really think our focus should be on looking at what some states have done, red flag or yellow flag laws.”

Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham negotiated a red-flag law in 2019 in the aftermath of shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, although it failed to clear a filibuster. Blumenthal expressed interest in reintroducing the legislation.

“I think there’s common ground on a red flag statute,” he told The Hill, adding that the Senate had “come close” before.