Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said Sunday that bipartisan negotiations on legislation in response to multiple mass shootings in recent weeks are progressing but may not include sweeping reform on gun laws.
Murphy told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that the Senate was “not going to do everything I want” but said that lawmakers were making progress toward “modest but impactful” gun control proposals.
“We’re not going to put a piece of legislation on the table that’s going to ban assault weapons, or we’re not going to pass comprehensive background checks,” he said. “But right now, people in this country want us to make progress. They just don’t want the status quo to continue for another 30 years.”
Murphy also said the lawmakers would not pass legislation that “compromises people’s Second Amendment rights” and were instead focusing on strengthening background checks and supporting “red flag” laws that provide law enforcement the ability to temporarily confiscate firearms from people considered a threat to themselves or others.
“We’re not going to do anything that compromises the ability of a law-abiding American to be able to buy a weapon,” he said. “What we’re talking about is trying to make sure that dangerous or potentially dangerous individuals don’t have their hands on weapons.”
He pointed to Florida’s “red flag” law that raised the age to buy long guns, such as AR-15s, from 18 to 21, implemented a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, created a program to allow trained school staff to carry guns and provided $400 million for mental health and school security.
Toomey told CBS News’ Face the Nation that he was particularly hopeful that the chamber would be able to pass an expansion of background checks, noting that he and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., had long pushed for such legislation.
“We all agree that violent criminals and deranged, dangerously mentally ill people shouldn’t have firearms,” he said. “So we need a mechanism to increase the likelihood that will identify such a person and prevent them from buying a gun legally anyway.”
Murphy said he has “never been part of negotiations as serious as these, noting GOP support.
“There are more Republicans at the table talking about changing our gun laws and investing in mental health than at any time since Sandy Hook,” he said.
Murphy added that he is “sober minded” about the chances of passing legislation, citing “many failed negotiations in the past.”
“I think the possibility of success is better than ever before. But I think the consequences of failure for our entire democracy are more significant than ever,” he said.
Toomey said it was his hope that negotiators would be able to produce a deal that could draw significant support.
“My hope is we’ll get at least half the Republican conference,” he said. “You know that should be the goal here.”
In the House, a group of 21 Democratic lawmakers led by Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., sent a letter to chamber leadership on Thursday urging them to break up a gun control package into eight individual bills to garner Republican support.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly urged Congress to pass gun legislation in the wake of mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Thursday stating that the push “isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights, it’s about protecting children, it’s about protecting families.”
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