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Republicans, Democrats spar over gun regulation after Texas school shooting

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A person kneels at a memorial in Town Square in front of the county courthouse, for victims of the Robb Elementary school shooting, three days after a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults, in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 27, 2022. 

Marco Bello | Reuters

Republicans and Democrats have continued to spar over gun control within the wake of the Texas elementary school shooting that left 21 people dead, with both sides advocating for vastly different solutions.

For Republicans, the reply lies in additional security in schools and increased access to mental health care. Democrats, meanwhile, argue that the convenience of access to military-grade weapons is the actual problem. As with other school shootings, few expect the gridlocked lawmakers to perform much.

“It’s inconceivable to me that we’ve not passed significant federal laws trying to handle the tragedy of gun violence on this nation,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Still, a handful of congressional officials told reporters Sunday that they expect this time to be different.

Murphy said there are “serious” bipartisan negotiations on a recent gun law meant to curb future shootings.

Negotiations with the Republican senators have included so-called red flag laws, which permit authorities to confiscate guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others, expanding a federal background check system, protected storage requirements, mental health resources and increased security funding for schools, he said.

“Each time, after certainly one of these mass shootings, there’s talks in Washington they usually never succeed,” Murphy added on “This Week.” “But there are more Republicans focused on talking about finding a path forward this time than I actually have ever seen since Sandy Hook.” In 2012, a 20-year-old gunman shot and killed 26 people, mostly 6- and 7-year-old children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Sen. Dick Durban, D-Unwell., echoed Murphy’s sentiments. “I sense a distinct feeling amongst my colleagues after Uvalde,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “America is sick and bored with the political excuses.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Unwell., told CNN that he could be open to a ban or more regulation on owning assualt weapons. Kinzinger, who has in recent times began to advocate for gun control, said on ABC that raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 is a “no brainer.”

Kinzinger, certainly one of the ten Republicans to vote to question former President Donald Trump, said last October he would not run for reelection after several members of his party essentially labeled him an outcast.

Democrats will need 10 Republicans to vote on their side to advance the measures. Other Republicans who may very well be in favor of some restrictions include Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who’s retiring at the tip of the present Congress.

To make sure, there continues to be a faction of Republicans who say that the Democrats’ solutions will impose on Second Amendment rights. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Tex., on Sunday told CNN that he’s against red flag laws, universal background checks and raising the minimum age to purchase the weapons. As an alternative, Crenshaw pushed for increased security in schools.

Other Republicans against restrictions or leaning against them include Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.

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