WASHINGTON —The deadliest shooting at an elementary school in America, in Newtown, Connecticut, a decade ago, wasn’t enough to shock GOP lawmakers into dropping their objections to gun control.
The second-deadliest such shooting, in Uvalde, Texas, where at the least 19 elementary school children died on Tuesday, isn’t more likely to either.
Over and all over again on Wednesday, Republican senators on Capitol Hill dismissed the necessity for expanded background checks for gun purchases, rejected calls to limit the usage of AR-15s and other semiautomatic weapons, and usually threw their hands up when pressed concerning the increasing frequency of mass shootings, suggesting it was all a mental health problem.
“We’ve had guns endlessly and we’re gonna proceed to have guns,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) adamantly told reporters, pointing the finger at drugs in schools.
Gun violence appears to be worsening amid a proliferation of firearms within the U.S. Greater than 45,000 Americans died in shootings in 2020 because the firearm homicide rate increased 35%, reaching its highest level since 1994, in keeping with essentially the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gun violence became the leading explanation for death amongst children and adolescents in 2020, in keeping with an evaluation of CDC data by researchers on the University of Michigan.
“I don’t know what the silver bullet is.”
– Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.)
Many GOP senators said recent gun laws wouldn’t stop mass shootings, no matter how they were structured. Some suggested so-called red-flag laws to assist prevent shootings, but such a law in Latest York didn’t stop a gunman from killing 10 people at a food market in Buffalo this month.
“I even have rigorously studied mass shootings going back to Columbine,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) told HuffPost. “You return and have a look at these horrible, evil perpetrators — either the present laws were broken and generally the proposed laws wouldn’t have stopped the violence.”
When asked if he supported keeping guns out of the hands of teenagers, who’re capable of purchase an assault-style rifle in Texas at age 18 but can’t buy alcohol until they’re 21, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said: “The overwhelming majority of teenagers, you’re never going to have a difficulty like this.”
“Remember, we already make it illegal to have guns in schools. We already made the atrocity itself — murder — illegal,” Rounds added.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) defended the flexibility of Americans to buy AR-15 rifles, the preferred weapon utilized by mass shooters, regardless that they weren’t available when the Second Amendment was written.
“I don’t know that our forefathers didn’t anticipate the day when each the federal government and the criminals and law enforcement and the residents would access more sophisticated systems of all sorts,” Cramer said.
Asked how his constituents would respond if he backed gun control laws, Cramer said they “would probably throw me out of office.” But he rejected the notion that Republicans are petrified of the National Rifle Association.
“It’s not the NRA, it’s gun owners, individual gun owners,” he said.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said his position hadn’t modified; he favors improving background checks and leaving gun laws to the states.
Calls for improved background checks have been the default response to high-profile shootings for several years. Under current law, licensed gun dealers are required to contact the FBI’s National Fast Criminal Background Check System to confirm the client doesn’t have a criminal record. But individuals who aren’t skilled gun dealers don’t need to be licensed and don’t need to run a background check after they sell a gun.
The House of Representatives approved two background check bills last 12 months on a bipartisan basis. One bill would expand background checks to such private sales by requiring the parties to get a licensed dealer to run a background check. The opposite would extend the three-day waiting period if the background check system doesn’t immediately respond.
Democrats took steps this week to place the laws on the Senate calendar, however the Senate isn’t more likely to take up either bill until next month, on the earliest. Lawmakers are scheduled to go away town on Thursday for a previously scheduled two-week recess.
Senators on each side of the aisle are deeply pessimistic about the probabilities of any kind of compromise on gun control. Passing recent laws would require at the least 10 Republican votes, however the GOP overwhelmingly opposes nearly all gun restrictions.
“I don’t know what the silver bullet is,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said. “I believe that it’s incumbent on all of us to be open-minded and to see what is sensible.”