UPDATED 3:40 PM PT – Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Republicans are pushing back on a Democrat-led call for gun control, after the left said it will act in light of two deadly shootings.
Democrats renewed their push for gun control after separate shootings in Georgia and Colorado, pointing to two recently passed House bills aimed at expanding background checks.
Top Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said this time the Senate will be different. He promised the Senate would take up the gun control debate and address the “epidemic of gun violence in this country.”
The Judiciary Committee yesterday heard from witnesses about proposals to reduce gun violence
The stories are heartbreaking
I will put legislation to address gun violence on the floor of the Senate
This Senate will act to address this epidemic
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 24, 2021
His comments were echoed on Wednesday by Kamala Harris, who called on Congress to pass gun control measures.
“The point here is Congress needs to act. On the House side, they did,” Harris said. “There are two bills which the president is prepared to sign, and so we need the Senate to act.”
Reports pointed out the Senate has not passed any significant gun control legislation since then-President Clinton signed the 10-year assault weapons ban into law in 1994, which expired in 2004.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he was open to discussing gun control legislation, but didn’t indicate if any actual talks would take place.
Senate Republicans have pushed back on the idea, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). On Wednesday, Cruz said he’s been leading the fight to end gun violence, and introduced legislation in 2013.
“It targeted violent criminals, it targeted felons and targeted fugitives. It targeted those with serious mental illness and prevented them from illegally buying guns. Beyond that, it directed the Department of Justice to prosecute felons and fugitives who try to illegally buy guns every year,” Cruz stated. “Tens of thousands of felons and fugitives tried to illegally buy guns, and right now the Department of Justice doesn’t prosecute.”
Cruz noted the legislation came to the floor and got a majority vote, yet didn’t pass because Democrats like Harry Reid and Schumer filibustered it.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also commented on the gun control debate when asked about it on Wednesday.
“Well number one, the idea of banning assault weapons, I don’t think it has any chance of passing in the Senate, and I would encourage Senator Schumer to bring up the assault weapons ban being proposed by President Biden and let us vote on it,” Graham said. “I think you’d get a majority of senators saying that banning the weapon is not going to solve the problem. I own an AR-15. I own it responsibly.”
Graham went on to reference a bipartisan bill pushed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), which would require federal authorities to alert state and local law enforcement within 24 hours if an ineligible person tried to purchase a firearm and failed a background check.
In the meantime, Democrats have further pushed their calls to end the filibuster in order to pass new gun control legislation. Reports said bills like the ones already passed in the House are not likely to receive enough support to pass the 60 vote threshold.
At least one Democrat has already said he wouldn’t support the move. On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he wouldn’t support breaking the filibuster, even for gun control efforts.