WASHINGTON — An important conversation being held in the shadow of the funerals for the 21 victims of the Uvalde massacre is happening on Capitol Hill. A bipartisan group of senators met remotely Tuesday to talk about a path forward on gun safety legislation.
President Joe Biden grieved with the shattered community of Uvalde on Sunday, mourning privately for three hours with anguished families of the 19 schoolchildren and two teachers killed by a gunman. Faced with chants of “do something” as he departed a church service, Biden pledged: “We will.”
Cornyn told reporters Monday that he hopes they can come up with a basic framework for gun proposals in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting. The idea is for Republicans and Democrats to reach a compromise on something that can pass in the Senate.
"We will, in the course of investigations and oversight, and in terms of legislation that may be considered, be looking to try to find ways to try to make events like this less likely to happen in the future," Cornyn said.
It's a compromise that Murphy believes is possible.
"Right now, parents in this country and kids are desperate for us to do something," Murphy said. "They are frightened. They're anxious. And we will just add to their anxiety if nothing happens again."
The bi-partisan effort is a step forward in trying to get a framework to pass legislation through a 50/50 Senate.
"Trying to find some common grounds on changes to our gun laws to make sure that dangerous people don’t get their hands on dangerous weapons," Murphy said.
Actually reaching a point where gun legislation can pass and become law will take some time and potential concessions.
"There are limitations under federal law of what sort of firearms you can buy and own and maintain ... if you have a criminal or mental health record. And we’ll be looking at all of that," Cornyn said.
Universal background checks, red flag laws and regulation of high-powered guns could also be considered.
"I’m also realistic about what we can accomplish. We don’t have to end the epidemic of gun violence in this nation with one piece of legislation. What we need to do is break this log jam," Murphy said.
Both senators said they're not going to negotiate publicly but mental health funding and toughening school infrastructure could be a start.
Cornyn released this statement:
“Senators Murphy, Sinema, Tillis, and I had a very constructive conversation about the best response to the horrific events in Uvalde last week. We’ve asked our staff to continue to work together to address some of the details that we hope to be able to discuss at some point soon."
What's happening in Texas?
Meanwhile, Texas State Senate Democrats, including Sen. Roland Gutierrez who represents the Uvalde community, are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to convene a special session on gun control. That task could prove difficult given the Republican majority in the legislature.
Among the proposals that Democrats are pushing for include tightening the background check system used for buying guns, and providing federal money for states to set up red flag laws. which would allow judges to order guns to be seized from people deemed dangerous.
But some Republicans, including Rep. Troy Nehls, say they aren't convinced more gun control is the answer.
"If you think the felons out there, and the bad hombres out there ... the ones that mean harm to their fellow Americans and other people ... if you think they're going to abide by your rules and your laws forget it they're not going to happen," Nehls said.
At this time, Abbott has not said whether he will call lawmakers into a special session.
What's happening in Houston?
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is also weighing in on what he thinks the deal should look like, much of which echoes what many Democrats are pushing for:
- Raising the age to buy an assault weapon to 21
- Red flag laws
- Universal background checks
- Texas Legislature should repeal permitless carry