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Democrats Seek Swift Action on Limited Gun-Control Proposals

·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- US lawmakers are setting a tight timetable to negotiate new gun laws, with Democrats signaling they would accept limited progress in exchange for some action that would reduce gun violence in the nation.

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Republicans and Democrats are working through the weekend to prepare a proposal before Congress returns from recess in a week, Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We’ve got a short time frame.”

Lawmakers are discussing expanded background checks, so-called red-flag laws and safer storage of guns, Murphy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He said he was willing to back some Republican priorities such as measures to “harden our schools,” while limits on high-capacity magazines were unlikely to find bipartisan support.

Some Republicans are indicating interest in emerging with legislation, spurred by the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

“We’re actually on track to get something done,” Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, said on “This Week.” He said it’s a “no-brainer” to raise the legal age to buy a gun to 21 from 18, but it isn’t clear whether there’s enough support for such measure.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said he’s deputized GOP Senator John Cornyn of Texas to see if a compromise can be reached, but he indicated it should be narrowly focused.

“I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre,” McConnell told reporters.

Texas authorities have said the gunman in the attack had no criminal record that would have triggered alarms on an instant background check when he bought the semiautomatic rifle used in the shooting.

‘Serious’ Talks

Negotiations with Republicans have been “serious” and Democrats are willing to set limits on how far to push, Murphy said Sunday. “I’m not going to let the perfect be the enemy to” progress, he said.

Lawmakers are also looking at mental health resources, Murphy said on ABC.

“No one law is going to save everybody,” he said on CBS. “But there’s a lot of lives to be saved by the things that are on the table in these negotiations.”

Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, said he opposes a national “red flag” law. Asked about the possibility of raising the legal age to buy firearms to 21 from 18, he said “maybe we should have that conversation.”

“But then it has to apply broadly,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It has to mean that you’re not an adult until 21. And then what happens then? When we see a 22-year-old commit an atrocity, are we going to raise it again and are we going to raise it again?”

While Congress has a long history of partisan division and inaction on gun control, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin voiced hope that limited steps, such as “red flag” legislation, might be possible. “I sense a different feeling among my colleagues after Uvalde,” he said on CNN.

Democrats have repeatedly tried and failed to enact new gun-control measures -- such as universal background checks and an assault weapons ban -- in the decade since a gunman killed 26 people, most of them first-graders, at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Multiple proposals have been blocked due to opposition from Republicans and a handful of moderate Democrats.

(Adds McConnell’s earlier comments in sixth paragraph.)

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