Cornyn to introduce gun violence legislation

Cornyn to introduce gun violence legislation

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Overnight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the upper chamber, announced he will introduce legislation on Wednesday to reduce mass violence in the U.S. 

Cornyn said in an op-ed in the El Paso Times that his bill would fight unlicensed firearms dealers, improve access to mental health care, assist schools in identifying potential threats from students and urge online platforms to provide law enforcement with information indicating acts of mass violence, hate crimes or domestic terrorism.

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He said his bill, entitled the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts (Response) Act, is a direct response to the August shootings in Texas. 

“No person, family, or community should endure the heartbreak caused by the recent mass shootings in Texas,” he wrote. “It’s time to answer their call for action, and pass the RESPONSE Act to keep our communities safe from mass violence.”

Shootings in the Texas cities of El Paso and Midland-Odessa killed 22 and seven people, respectively. 

Cornyn, who is up for reelection next year, said his bill would aim to prevent shooters like the Midland-Odessa shooter from illegally getting access to a firearm after failing a background check. The bill would initiate a national task force to track those illegally selling firearms and those attempting to purchase firearms with false statements in their background checks.

Abhi Rahman, the director of strategic communications for the Texas Democratic Party, condemned the senator in a statement, saying his legislation doesn’t go nearly far enough.

"After taking over $210,000 from the gun lobby, refusing to denounce gun violence and white supremacy in the direct aftermath of the El Paso shooting, and taking money from the NRA directly between the El Paso and Midland-Odessa tragedies, it's no surprise that John Cornyn would introduce a bill that doesn't include expanding background checks or reducing the amount of weapons of war on our streets," he said in the statement.

"Texans deserve real solutions to solve our gun violence epidemic — not half measures that are meant purely to score political points," Rahman added.

House Democrats pushed gun legislation to the Senate after this year's mass shootings, but gun reform has taken a back seat as the impeachment inquiry and foreign policy in Syria has been at the forefront on Capitol Hill.

—Updated at 1:50 p.m.