US Senate gun safety talks grapple with ‘red flag’ laws and school safety

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) listens before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider judicial nominees and the nomination of the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF ) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

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WASHINGTON, June 5 (Reuters) – Bipartisan U.S. Senate negotiations over how or whether to respond to the latest wave of mass shootings are focusing on a range of options, including making schools safer. and “red flag” laws to allow police to seize firearms. people considered dangerous.

The talks will continue early this week, when Congress returns from a Memorial Day recess, and will follow a prime-time speech last week in which Democratic President Joe Biden implored lawmakers to act.

Previous mass shootings like the ones that left 19 young children and two educators at a Texas school, 10 black shoppers at a New York state grocery store and a pair of weekend shootings in Philadelphia and Chattanooga, Tennessee , led to similar discussions but no action in the deeply divided Congress. Read more

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Democratic US Senator Chris Murphy, who is leading the talks with his Republican counterpart John Cornyn, said options on the table include investments in mental health and school safety.

“Make big investments in mental health, money for school safety, and small but impactful changes to gun laws. That’s the kind of package we’re putting together right now. That’s the kind of package that I think can be passed by the Senate,” Murphy said. in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Democrats control wafer-thin majorities in Congress, but Senate rules mean they need at least 10 Republicans to pass major legislation. It’s a tall order with less than six months until November’s midterm elections, when Republicans aim to regain a majority.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican member of the negotiating group, said some expansion of background checks was on the table, along with possible “red flag” laws that allow states to maintain proper due process.

“I think there’s a place to land that’s compliant with the Second Amendment,” Toomey said, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation” show. “That hasn’t been finally resolved, but something in the space of expanding background checks, I think, is very – well, certainly is on the table and I hope it becomes part of that. ‘one final package.’

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right to own and bear arms, and Republicans advocate a broad interpretation of this right, opposing most new gun ownership limits.

As the White House and Congress struggle to agree on a response to the spate of shootings, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on a New York case that could lead to a sweeping expansion gun rights. Read more

“Red flag” laws allowing police to seize guns from people with certain mental illnesses have been implemented in 19 US states. Gun rights advocates criticize these measures, saying they violate the Second Amendment and deprive individuals of the right to argue their case with due process in court.

Murphy, of Connecticut, where a gunman killed 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, said parents in his state were worried.

“There is just a deep, deep fear for our children right now. And also a fear that the government is so fundamentally broken that it cannot put politics aside to ensure the one thing that matters most to the people. adults in this country – the physical safety of their children,” he told CNN.

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Reporting by Katharine Jackson in Washington Editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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