McConnell Open to Considering New Gun Laws

But he doesn't want to bring Senate back early
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2019 12:01 AM CDT
Updated Aug 9, 2019 12:30 AM CDT
McConnell Won't Bring Senate Back Early for Gun Debate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addresses the audience gathered at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019.   (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't want to bring the Senate back early from its August break to debate gun legislation, and he won't commit to supporting measures like expanded background checks—but he is at least willing to consider new legislation. McConnell told a Kentucky radio station Thursday that bringing the Senate back before its scheduled Sept. 9 return would just be a "frustrating experience," the Hill reports. "If we did that, we would just have people scoring points and nothing would happen," the Republican said. "There has to be a bipartisan discussion here of what we can agree on." He said senators will use the break to discuss legislation that could actually pass when they return. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has asked President Trump to call for the Senate to return for a vote on "House-passed bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation."

In what the New York Times sees as a sign Republicans are under pressure to take action after last weekend's mass shootings, McConnell promised that a measure to expand background checks to all gun buyers will be "front and center" when the Senate returns. "There is a lot of support for that," McConnell said, adding that Republicans are also willing to look at "red flag" legislation that would make it easier to take guns away from potentially dangerous people. The NRA, however, has opposed expanded background checks and other measures in the past and senators say McConnell won't hold a vote on gun control legislation unless it has strong and sustained support from President Trump. "There's no way Republicans are voting for a background check bill unless Trump comes out in favor of it for more than a couple of hours," says Democratic Sen. Christopher Murphy. "I've been to this rodeo before." (The NRA called Trump after he expressed support for background checks.)

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