Gun control dominates conversation as Congress returns

Gun control dominates conversation as Congress returns
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Congress returns this week amid intense debate over the best legislative approach to mass shootings. 

Lawmakers and President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE have proposed a number of controversial ideas, but so far only a handful of specifics.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.), who is planning to resuscitate legislation with Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPollster: Kavanaugh will get Dem votes Overnight Health Care: Trump officials explore importing prescription drugs | Key ObamaCare, drug pricing regs under review | GOP looks to blunt attacks on rising premiums | Merck to lower some drug prices Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions MORE (D-W.Va.) that would expand background checks to commercial sales, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he is “skeptical” of proposals to increase the minimum age requirement to purchase certain guns like the AR-15.

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“I’m very skeptical about that because the vast majority of 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds are law-abiding citizens who aren’t a threat to anyone,” Toomey told host Chuck Todd. 

Trump has called for more “comprehensive” background checks following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead. He also said last week that the sale of bump stocks should end and the age to purchase weapons like the AR-15 should go up to 21. 

But the suggestion to up the age requirement is already facing scrutiny from some Republican lawmakers. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Associate (NRA) has come out against raising the age mandate. 

Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieSenate braces for Trump showdown over Chinese telecom giant Overnight Defense: Trump, Kim poised for historic summit | Trump blasts 'haters and losers' hours before meeting | Defense bill to include ZTE penalties | Lawmakers sound alarm over 'catastrophic' Yemen offensive Lawmakers circulate 'urgent call' for Mattis to prevent 'catastrophic' Yemen offensive MORE (R-Ky.) on Sunday touted Trump’s proposal to arm teachers, but slammed additional age restrictions and background checks.

“Those are false senses of security,” he told “Meet the Press,” referring to the background checks.

“And in 10 years we’re still going to have school shootings unless you propose real legislation, like President Trump has proposed, that would allow teachers to be armed.”

But Democrats have blasted the suggestion to arm teachers, a pitch Trump has repeated multiple times in the last week.

Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchTop Ethics Dem calls for Nielsen to resign House votes to disavow carbon tax GOP congressional candidate tells Parkland father to stop 'exploiting' his daughter's death MORE (D-Fla.), who represents Parkland, described the proposal as “a distraction,” instead pushing for improvements to the country’s mental health services. 

“The shift to arming teachers is a distraction. It’s a distraction from the important discussion about all the things that can be done this week when we go back to Washington,” Deutch told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The Florida congressman last week vowed to introduce legislation banning assault weapons.

“We’re going to introduce legislation to make sure that assault weapons are illegal in every part of this country,” he said during CNN’s town hall event.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect in the Florida shooting, allegedly used a legally purchased AR-15 to carry out the attack, placing the rifle in the center of the debate.

Students survivors of the attack have emerged as outspoken advocates for gun reform, participating in last week’s CNN town hall with Deutch and Florida Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans On The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal Overnight Defense: White House 'not considering' Ukraine referendum | Pompeo hopeful on plans for Putin visit | Measure to block ZTE deal dropped from defense bill MORE (R) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPolling analyst: Same Dems who voted for Gorsuch will vote for Kavanaugh Election security bill picks up new support in Senate Senators share their fascination with sharks at hearing MORE (D). They have also pushed for lawmakers to confront the NRA.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg told ABC’s “This Week” that it’s “disgusting” for the NRA to oppose the various proposed gun reform measures. 

“They act like they don't own these politicians. They still do. It's a Republican-controlled House, Senate and executive branch,” Hogg said.

“They can get this stuff done. They've gotten gun legislation passed before in their favor, in the favor of gun manufacturers.”

Despite the disagreements between advocates and lawmakers, parties on both sides of the aisle appear to agree on the need for some form of action.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDem senator ties Kavanaugh confirmation vote to Trump-Putin controversy Full interview: Chris Murphy speaks out on the Trump-Putin meeting and what it means Dem senator: NATO has become 'functionally obsolete' under Trump MORE (D-Conn.), who has long pushed for increased gun control measures, said he is “absolutely” willing to work with Trump on gun reform.

“And I’m looking forward to going over to the White House. I’m glad for the invitation,” Murphy told CNN’s “State of the Union.”