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 TrumpTrump: I will deliver State of the Union 'when the shutdown is over' Former NYPD commander claims Trump got special treatment for gun licenses Colbert starts petition for Cardi B to give State of the Union rebuttal 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) ManchinGOP seeks to change narrative in shutdown fight Senate to vote on dueling government funding bills This week: Congress heading in opposite directions on shutdown plans 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 MassieHouse passes bill expressing support for NATO Twitter suspends account that helped incident with Native American man go viral Massie claims media misrepresented Covington Catholic incident 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 DeutchDems demand answers following explosive new Cohen report Overnight Energy: Senators introduce bipartisan carbon tax bill | House climate panel unlikely to have subpoena power | Trump officials share plan to prevent lead poisoning Flake to co-introduce bipartisan climate bill 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 RubioLawmakers propose banning shark fin trade Congress gets tough on China over trade secrets Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers worry as 'deepfakes' spread | New intel strategy sees threats from emerging tech | Google fined M under EU data rules | WhatsApp moves to curb misinformation MORE (R) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmaker diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Rick Scott threw party at Florida governor’s mansion after DeSantis and family had moved in: report Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida 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 MurphySenate Dems introduce bill to keep DACA info private Dems demand answers following explosive new Cohen report Dem senators debate whether to retweet Cardi B video criticizing Trump over shutdown 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.”