Following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio this weekend that claimed the lives of over 30 innocent people and injured dozens others, President Trump delivered prepared remarks Monday in which he called for bipartisan action on gun control, particularly “red flag” laws. Now, Republicans in the Senate are reportedly unifying behind legislation which would be, as The New York Times puts it, “the most significant gun control legislation enacted in 20 years.”
After condemning white supremacy and all forms of racial bigotry, Trump urged legislators to take bipartisan action to prevent future atrocities. Among the priorities he listed for moving forward are doing a more effective job of “identifying and acting on early warning signs” and making sure that those who “pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms.”
“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process. That is why I have called for red-flag laws, also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” Trump said in his list of “just a few of the areas of cooperation that we can pursue.”
“Republicans and Democrats have proven that we can join together in a bipartisan fashion to address this plague,” he stressed, citing the legislation on school protection and gun violence enacted in 2018. “Last year we enacted the Stop School Violence and Fix NICS Acts into law, providing grants to improve school safety and strengthening critical background checks for firearm purchases. At my direction, the Department of Justice banned bump stocks. Last year we prosecuted a record number of firearms offenses. But there is so much more that we have to do.”
Following Trump’s speech, the Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported that Republicans are “coalescing around legislation to help law enforcement take guns from those who pose an imminent danger.” As examples of the increased unification on the issue, Stolberg cites multiple Republicans expressing support, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has proposed federal grants to help enact state red flag laws, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who expressed confidence Tuesday that Congress “will be able to find common ground on the so-called red flag issue,” and Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-OH), who pledged to support not only a red flag law but a “military-style” weapons ban and magazine limit.
As The Daily Wire reported Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed a three-person committee Tuesday to look into potential bipartisan solutions reflecting Trump’s priorities. “I asked them to reflect on the subjects the president raised within their jurisdictions and encouraged them to engage in bipartisan discussions of potential solutions to help protect communities without infringing on Americans’ constitutional rights,” McConnell said in a statement Tuesday.
“Red flag legislation also appears poised to move in the House,” Stolberg reports. “The Judiciary Committee was consulting with its members on Tuesday about whether to briefly return to Washington from a six-week recess to advance a red flag bill and other gun-related legislation, according to an aide to the committee.”
How the Democrats will proceed, notes Stolberg, is “not clear” as some more far-left Democrats will likely demand more extensive gun control measures, particularly “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazine bans and universal background checks. Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer (NY) has already signaled that he may push back, saying, “The idea of a red flag law is O.K.,” but does not “substitute” for a Democrat-backed background check bill.