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 JohnsonHouse chair threatens subpoenas if Pompeo doesn't provide Biden docs he gave Senate GOP Senate confirms Ratcliffe to be Trump's spy chief Schumer dubs GOP 'conspiracy caucus' amid Obama-era probes 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 McConnellPence: Next coronavirus relief bill would need legal shield for businesses GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill State Department scrutiny threatens Pompeo's political ambitions 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 retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order 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) ManchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December Congress headed toward unemployment showdown The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy NSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight 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 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.