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GOP senator: Gun control debate 'hasn't changed much at all' back home

GOP senator: Gun control debate 'hasn't changed much at all' back home
© Aaron Schwartz

Republican Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (Wis.) on Tuesday questioned a renewed push for gun control after two mass shootings earlier this month put a focus back on the nation's gun laws.

"All I can tell you is what I hear in Wisconsin. The debate really hasn't changed much at all," Johnson told CNN.

"People still ask the same questions. OK, if you propose some kind of gun legislation, first of all, how would that have prevented these tragedies in the past? How would they prevent them in the future?" he added.

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Pressure on lawmakers to pass gun legislation has increased following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left a combined 31 people dead over a single weekend this month.

In the wake of the shootings, Democrats have pushed Republicans in the Senate to take up a bill calling for universal background checks. That bill passed the Democratic-led House earlier this year and was backed by just eight Republicans.

Mandatory gun buyback programs have also been floated by some lawmakers who argue that a reduction in the number of available firearms is necessary to cut down on gun-related violence.

Johnson on Tuesday called mandatory buyback programs "compensated confiscation" and said that all of the options that have been proposed are "just a further infringement on Second Amendment rights."

"I realize the clamor. I realize the polling, but the polling I don't think accurately assesses people's knowledge of what we're talking about here," he told CNN.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (R-Ky.) has said that background checks and so-called red flag laws will be "front and center" in the chamber's debate on gun control when lawmakers return from their recess next month.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE has flirted with the possibility of taking action on gun control in the wake of the Ohio and Texas shootings.

Several national polls have shown support for background checks among Americans near or above 90 percent.

Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils 8 billion coronavirus proposal MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyAppeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy MORE (R-Pa.) have introduced a bill expanding background checks in the Senate.

"I don't see the dynamics of it having changed much," Johnson told CNN when asked about the Manchin-Toomey proposal.