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 TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE have proposed a number of controversial ideas, but so far only a handful of specifics.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), who is planning to resuscitate legislation with Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote 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 MassieEthics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers House Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against GOP lawmakers California Democrats clash over tech antitrust fight 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 DeutchIncorporating mental health support into global assistance programs Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers Sanders reaffirms support for Turner in Ohio amid Democratic rift 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: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers Hillicon Valley: Senators introduce bill to require some cyber incident reporting | UK citizen arrested in connection to 2020 Twitter hack | Officials warn of cyber vulnerabilities in water systems MORE (R) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonTom Brady to Biden: '40 percent of the people still don't think we won' Rubio, Demings rake in cash as Florida Senate race heats up How transparency on UFOs can unite a deeply divided nation 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 MurphyOn The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan infrastructure deal House bill targets US passport backlog 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.”