Murphy: Gun reform talks won’t include assault weapons ban, ‘comprehensive’ background checks
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who is helping lead bipartisan gun reform talks in the Senate, said on Sunday that any potential deal on legislation would not include an assault weapons ban or “comprehensive” background checks.
Murphy told CNN “State of the Union” co-anchor Jake Tapper that the bipartisan group of senators leading the talks following a recent string of high-profile mass shootings met again Saturday night, adding that negotiations are focused on mental health funding, school safety measures and “modest but impactful” gun control proposals.
“We’re not going to do everything I want,” Murphy said.
“We’re not going to put a piece of legislation on the table that’s going to ban assault weapons, or we’re not going to pass comprehensive background checks,” he said. “But right now, people in this country want us to make progress. They just don’t want the status quo to continue for another 30 years.”
Hours after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead last month, Murphy made an emotional plea on the Senate floor to lawmakers to act on gun control.
He has since been leading talks among a bipartisan group of senators to discuss reforms. The group, which has met on at least four occasions, has at times included Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
“I’ve never been part of negotiations as serious as these,” Murphy said on Sunday. “There are more Republicans at the table talking about changing our gun laws and investing in mental health than at any time since Sandy Hook.”
But Murphy cautioned that the talks might not ultimately bear any fruit.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tapped one of his advisers, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to negotiate with Democrats on gun reform following the shootings. Cornyn last Wednesday tamped down hopes or fears that he would endorse new gun restrictions, responding to a Twitter user that making gun laws more restrictive was “not gonna happen.”
“I’ve also been part of many failed negotiations in the past,” Murphy said on CNN. “So I’m sober minded about our chances.”
Murphy said the group is also focusing on strengthening background checks and incentivizing states to implement red flag laws — which allow people to petition a court to temporarily confiscate firearms from owners considered risks to themselves or others — and providing funds for states with existing red flag legislation.
“I think this week, we need to have concepts to present to our colleagues,” he said.