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Eight Republican U.S. senators interviewed by Raw Story today provided no indication that they would support changes to federal gun laws in the wake of the murder of 19 children and an adult in a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.
The eight were Senators Mitt Romney (UT), Josh Hawley (MO), Lindsay Graham (SC), John Barrasso (WY), Rick Scott (FL), Shelly Moore Caputo (WVA), Kevin Cramer (ND), and Susan Collins (ME). All were interviewed briefly as they moved through the corridors of the U.S. Capitol.
The common response was an expression of sorrow for the victims and their families followed by non-specific suggestions that did not reference firearms control or reduction. None indicated support for federal red-flag laws such as the one advocated last year by President Joe Biden.
Here’s a synopsis of the senators’ responses:
Romney: The Utah senator, who has received more than $13 million in contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) in his career, struck a conciliatory tone: “Background checks and updating our background-check technology is an appropriate federal responsibility.” But while said he was “looking at” the Toomey-Manchin gun proposal, Romney added he would need to decide “whether I could support that or whether there might be some amendments that would make it more acceptable.” As to red-flags, Romney said he supported them at the state level but didn’t see a federal role.
Hawley: The insurrectionist senator was the most hostile to red-flag laws, even at the state level. “It depends on the law. That means a lot of things to a lot of different people. There’s a wide variance of what kind of due-process protection is provide, what sort of evidence the government has to (produce), whether there’s a mental-health condition and what sort of discretion the judge has.” Asked by a reporter, do you at least see an opening to discuss that at a national level, Hawley demurred: “At the national level? I don’t know about that. It’s something the states can do if they want to, but I’ve got a lot of concerns with a lot of the red-flag laws out there.”
Graham: Asked about red laws, the senator was Grahamesque: “Bring it all up, vote on it. I don’t know what they want to do. I want to secure schools.”
Barrasso: Asked if he was in the “pocket of the gun lobby “ Barrasso didn’t flinch: “I’m from Wyoming. We are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, as opposed to an organization, it’s an amendment to which we are committed. It does seems like when tragedies occur like this horrendous situation in Texas with this senseless loss of life, I want to know why someone could get into a school like that.” Barrasso said schools need to be “hardened” to prevent criminals from entering. But he added, “It does seem that the Democrats just want to immediately take away people’s guns. They don’t want people to be able to buy, own or transport legal firearms. That’s the place they want to go first.”
Scott: The senator spoke about the sorrow of having been through four mass shootings, including Parkland, while he was governor of Florida. But asked about what to do at the federal level, Scott spoke of “some things” he did at the state level. He referenced the Eagle’s Act providing threat assessments and sharing information about school’s best practices, but “most of the things you need to do are at the state level.” He too, charged that “the Democrats want to constantly go to taking someone’s Second Amendment rights away.”
Cramer: He spokes of how “painful” and “heartbreaking” the killings were to watch and that there were “no words to comfort the parents.” However, Cramer pivoted to saying, “it’s best to wait to make major policy decisions” because of the emotion surrounding mass shootings. When a reporter noted that it has been 10 years since the Newtown tragedy and no major new guns law have passed, Cramer responded, “Right, right, because the principle hasn’t changed, the Second Amendment, the constitutional right hasn’t changed, the vast, vast majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens. None of that has changed in the past decade.” He said, “I feel that we could more to empower professional therapists and family members to intervene in their lives when there are mental health and addiction issues.” But he added, “the weapon of choice is less important that the person who pulled the trigger.” Cramer admitted that if he supported gun control, “most of the voters of North Dakota – and not just Republican voters would probably throw me out of office.”
Caputo: After expressing that the shootings were “horrifying,” Caputo’s responded to a question about new gun laws, “My understanding is that Senator Schumer said he was going to look toward something bipartisan. We’ll just have to see what comes from those discussions.” She then declined to answer specific questions.
Collins: She said she supports Congress passing red-flag laws, but there was a twist. “I hope we’ll look at passing a yellow or flag law such as the state of Maine has with the involvement of a medical professional, the courts and due process.” But asked about a federal law, she said “what you have to do is incentivize the states to pass that.”
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