GOP-controlled Senate committee to hold March 26 hearing on gun control

GOP-controlled Senate committee to hold March 26 hearing on gun control
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump: Anonymous news sources are 'bulls---' Trump: 'Good chance' Dems give immigration 'win' after Pelosi called White House plan 'dead on arrival' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration MORE (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he leads, will hold a hearing on March 26 on gun control laws.

The senator told CNN that the hearing will likely focus on "red flag" laws, which give authorities increased ability to confiscate guns from individuals deemed dangerous by a court. He said he did not believe witnesses for the hearing have yet been selected. 

"We're trying to drive states to create these laws with certain guidelines to make sure they actually work but to let the states deal with this issue but to incentivize them to do so," Graham told CNN.

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Graham and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced "red flag" legislation last year following a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school, but it did not become law.

Some states have moved to enact similar laws. Florida passed gun reform legislation after the Parkland shooting that included red flag language. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the state's new "Red Flag Bill" late last month, which allows family members, school officials or law enforcement officers to seek a court order to confiscate guns from an individual who is considered an "extreme risk" to themselves or others. 

The gun control hearing marks a rare step for the Republican-held Senate, as GOP lawmakers and some Democrats have been wary of wading into the politically divisive issue.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyConnecticut radio station rebrands itself 'Trump 103.3' Foreign Relations senators demand Iran briefing Prosecutor appointed by Barr poised to enter Washington firestorm MORE (D-Conn.), one of the most outspoken advocates for gun control legislation, wrote to Graham on Wednesday urging him to hold hearings on universal background check laws. Thirty-seven Democrats joined Murphy in signing the letter. 

Graham has in the past been hesitant to embrace tougher gun laws, but he backed an effort last year to change the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and encourage states to report cases of severe mental illness to the federal government in hopes of reining in gun violence.

The March 26 Senate hearing will take place roughly a month after the House approved legislation that would extend the review period for background checks on firearm purchases, as well as a bill that would require all gun sellers to conduct background checks on firearm buyers.

"I haven't really looked at the House package, but this is, to me, the area where we can come together," Graham told CNN of the "red flag" hearing.