Bipartisan group of senators meets on gun safety legislation, could find consensus on red flag measure

A bipartisan group of senators gathered on Thursday for lunch to discuss a path forward on gun safety legislation, two sources said two days later a gunman. shot and killed 21 people in Uvalde, TexasTuesday.

Democratic psychics Chris Murphy, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Martin Heinrich, and Richard Blumenthal attended the lunch with Republican psychics Susan Collins, Pat Toomey, Lindsey Graham, and Bill Cassidy, who joined on the phone.

This was their second meeting, one of the sources said, and while it’s still very early in their discussions, some senators have suggested there may be more consensus on the matter. Red flag and read yellow flag.

Red flag laws have been implemented in 19 states, many after the Parkland shooting; allow courts to temporarily confiscate firearms belonging to persons deemed to be a risk to others or to themselves. These Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) allow family members and law enforcement to ask a state court judge to issue an order taking up arms from an individual they believe poses a threat to their safety. . Signatories must present evidence to the court as to why individuals pose a threat.

Yellow flag laws allow law enforcement – and law enforcement only – to petition the courts to temporarily take away the guns of those who are considered a threat to others or to themselves. Republican Senator Susan Collins pointed to her home state, which has such a law on books.

“Our emphasis should be on keeping weapons away from those who pose a threat to themselves and others,” Collins said.

The most common red flag laws differ from yellow flag laws in that red flag laws allow family members to petition the courts to keep firearms away from a person.

“If there is a measure to prevent gun violence, I’m pretty sure the red flag law will be part of it,” said Blumenthal, who worked with Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham in 2019 on a bipartisan proposal. “Lindsey Graham was a true partner in this effort. He was bipartisan. Now we have other Republicans saying it’s time for that kind of red flag. He may have prevented some of these killings.”

Blumenthal, who was Connecticut’s junior senator during the Sandy Hook shooting, described what is under discussion as a system that incentives states to adopt new red flag laws and also “rewards states and allows them to implement the existing laws “. The incentives would be awarded “on the basis of the best of state laws in terms of protection of constitutional rights, but also of public safety”.

Murphy, who was the congressman representing Newtown, Connecticut when the Sandy Hook school shooting took place, was one of the first lawmakers to insist that lawmakers take action this time around. He and the bipartisan group of senators are moving swiftly to determine what weapons security measure could find sufficient consensus – at least 60 votes – to pass in the Senate. He said he’s been encouraged so far and doesn’t think the upcoming holiday break will be a hindrance, adding that it’s easier to leave Washington to negotiate.

“We need at least a week to work on these difficult problems,” Murphy said. “Frankly, it’s easier to work on these issues outside of Washington than when we’re here.” Murphy also says there will be a series of meetings next week to try and produce a bipartisan measure.

He told reporters that the bipartisan group believes it can make progress in reforming background checks and red flag laws and providing more support for school safety.

“We have a number of areas we think we can make progress on: background checks, red flag laws, additional support for school safety. And we will be working through the weekend and into the next week to see if we can find a common ground”.

But Murphy made it clear that he doesn’t want to overestimate his optimism. “I’ve been Charlie Brown times enough to know that up until now football has been out of my way every time,” he added. “Maybe this time it’s different.”

On Thursday morning, Texas Senator John Cornyn met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who encouraged him to engage in the bipartisan discussions coordinated by Murphy and Sinema. Just before walking into McConnell’s office, Cornyn told reporters, “I’m not taking anything off the table other than denying people their constitutional rights who are law-abiding citizens.”

Murphy was delighted to hear that McConnell approves of Cornyn’s involvement in bipartisan discussions.

“There are a lot of Republicans interested in speaking,” he said. “I was encouraged by Senator McConnell’s willingness to carry on these talks. I suspect there was a purpose in what he said. And my hope is that this signals Republicans to keep their minds open about what we are working on. ”

Blumenthal said CBS News talks with Republicans “went very well” Wednesday night. He too said he would continue talking to colleagues over the next ten days, mostly by phone or Zoom.

Other ideas under discussion include raising the age limit or applying for a special license for the sale of semi-automatic weapons.

Congress has little to show for its efforts in the recent past: most of the gun safety legislation written between the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 and this week’s massacre of a fourth grade classroom. elementary school and their teachers in Uvalde, Texas, went nowhere.

But this week’s school shooting was the starkest reminder of that decade of legislative failure, and this time around, lawmakers on both sides seem determined to break the cycle.

“I’m not interested in making a political statement. I’m not interested in the same old tired arguments,” Cornyn told the Senate on Thursday. “I’m actually interested in what we can do to make the terrible events that happened in Uvalde less likely in the future.”

Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

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