Lawmakers return to Washington amid calls for gun control

Posted at 6:23 AM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-21 06:23:30-04

Just days after a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, claimed 10 lives, some Democratic lawmakers want to call attention back to gun control, an issue that has consistently struggled to gain traction on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers are returning to Washington on Monday, but there’s skepticism that Congress would be willing to take up a divisive topic such as gun control, just months before the midterm elections.

Politicians from states that have been devastated from school shootings were among the most vocal on the issue.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy — whose state was devastated by the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 27 dead — blamed his Senate colleagues for “inaction” in a tweet Friday.

“Let’s call it like it is: The horrifying inaction of Congress, slaughter after slaughter, has become a green light to would-be shooters, who pervert silence into endorsement,” Murphy tweeted.

And Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said he hopes his colleagues will let their position on gun control “evolve.”

“We have these tragedies, it feels like, once a quarter,” he said to CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “There’s a few days of mourning, with the exception of what happened after Parkland, where there seemed to be a moment. And my hope and my appeal to everyone is, let’s do an all-of-the-above. But, please, for those folks that I work with in the Congress, take a moment and let your position evolve. I mean, there are ways that we can put reasonable restraints without dramatically interfering with people’s Second Amendment rights.”

On the House side, Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch — whose district represents Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed at a high school in February — called for House Speaker Paul Ryan to “ready” universal background checks for the House floor.

He tweeted Friday, “It’s not too soon. It’s too late. For at least 8 families. For thousands more student-survivors at Santa Fe High School. @SpeakerRyan, you’ve had 3 months since our meeting to ready universal background checks for the floor. How many more?”

However, Ryan seems unlikely to take up the issue. In his statement on Friday, he pointed to past legislation related to keeping schools safer.

Earlier this year, lawmakers voted for a $1.3 trillion spending package that included a bill that incentivizes state and federal authorities to report more data to the country’s gun background check system.

“While we need to learn more about what took place here, it is urgent that we implement the reforms Congress recently passed to make schools safer and keep deadly weapons away from those who should not have them,” he said in a statement. “This is a time to come together in support of the Santa Fe community.”

It’s unclear what, if any, legislation Congress could consider that would have prevented a mass shooting like the one in Texas on Friday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters that the alleged shooter used a shotgun and a .38 revolver that were legally owned by his father.

It’s possible gun control legislation could make more progress at the state level. In Texas, Abbott also offered plans of “swift” action for the coming days, primarily a Tuesday roundtable to discuss next steps in protecting students and schools from gun violence.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at a news conference there are multiple issues regarding school shootings including video games, the entertainment industry, throwing God out of school and too many exit doors in the schools.

“We have a law in Texas that allows teachers to carry. … But it’s left to the superintendent and the local level,” Patrick said.