Horrific shootings, political forces line up to provoke arms deal

Horrific shootings, political forces line up to provoke arms deal

WASHINGTON (AP) – The country has long suffered a boring succession of mass shootings at schools, places of worship and public places. No one has forced Congress to react with important legislation – so far.

Last month, a white killer was accused of racist motives for killing 10 blacks at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Another gunman killed 19 students and two primary school teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

The killings of shoppers and school-age children just 10 days apart – innocents engaged in day-to-day activities – have helped spark a general public outcry from Congress to do something, lawmakers in both parties say. Negotiators have drafted a bipartisan bill on armed violence, which the Senate is approving later this week, with House action expected sometime later.

Here’s a look at a handful of factors that have helped bring about a compromise.


This is an election year. Republicans favor taking over the House, which is now tightly controlled by Democrats, and have a solid chance of winning the Senate 50-50.

To boost their chances, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Knows they need to attract moderate voters such as suburban women who will decide to compete in states such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina.

Taking action to reduce bloodshed helps the GOP prove to be reasonable – a picture tarnished by former President Donald Trump and far-right opponents of his 2020 election defeat.

Underscoring his preferred focus, McConnell praised the arms deal, telling reporters on Wednesday that he was taking significant steps to address “the two issues I think he is focusing on, school safety and mental health.”

The bill will spend $ 8.6 billion on mental health programs and more than $ 2 billion on school safety and other improvements, according to a cost estimate by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Analysts estimated its total cost at about $ 13 billion, more than was paid for by the budget savings it also claims.

But it also makes the records of underage gun buyers between the ages of 18 and 20 part of the background checks required to purchase firearms, barricade convicted domestic thugs who are not married or living with their victims, and reinforce penalties for arms trafficking. It funds violence prevention programs and helps states enforce laws that help authorities obtain temporary weapons from individuals deemed dangerous.


The measure lacks stronger Democrat-backed restrictions, such as a ban on assault weapons used in Buffalo, Ovalde and other massacres, and the large-capacity ammunition cartridges used by these snipers.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Wednesday that this time, Democrats have decided not to “vote on a bill with as many things as we would like, but that had no hope of being voted on.” . This has been the standard for years.

Connecticut Democratic senators Chris Murphy of Arizona and Kirsten Cinema of Arizona, and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Tillis of North Carolina led the four-day talks. Their agreement is the most important congressional measure on armed violence since the 1993 arms embargo expired.

For almost 30 years, “both parties were sitting in their respective corners, deciding that it was politically safer to do nothing than take risks,” Murphy told reporters. He said Democrats needed to show “we were willing to put on the table some things that took us out of our comfort zone.”


Weapons defenders are disproportionately Republican and the party’s crucifixion at its own risk. Trump, most likely preparing for a presidential bid in 2024, issued a statement calling the compromise “the first step in the movement to get your weapons.”

McConnell went so far as to say that the measure “does not so much affect the rights of the vast majority of American gun owners who are law-abiding citizens in good faith.”

Even so, the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups oppose a compromise on what would be a test of their influence.

Support for this legislation may not condemn Republicans with pro-gun voters.

McConnell and Cornyn spoke of a GOP poll showing that gun owners overwhelmingly support many of the bill’s provisions. And these voters are likely to be angry about high gas prices and inflation, and Republicans could vote anyway.


About two-thirds of the 50 Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the arms measure. However, congressional approval would be a victory for the GOP, preventing Democrats from using gun violence in their campaigns, said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “Removing this from the table as a potential issue for Democrats restores the focus on inflation and the economy again,” Newhouse said.

That’s not the case, says Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin. He said the approval would allow Democrats to advertise an achievement led by Congress and prove that they can work beyond party lines. Democrats can still campaign against Republicans to oppose tougher measures, such as curbing weapons, issues where “Democrats clearly have high political ground,” Garin said.

Fourteen Republicans, including Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, voted Tuesday in favor of shifting the bill one step closer to the vote. It is rather indicative that she and Indiana Sen. Todd Young were the only two to face re-election this fall. Three retirees and eight, including McConnell, Cornyn and Tillis, will not be running again until 2026.


Senators say they are in a different mood at home.

The No. 2 leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Richard Darbin, Illinois, said some people he has known for a long time told him that “maybe it’s time to take my kids out of this country,” which he described as unbelievable. families are ‘after the recent shootings.

“What I heard for the first time was ‘Do Something,'” Murkowski said.

This did not apply to everyone. Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, where guns are widely spoken, told voters he “wants to ensure that their Second Amendment rights are protected,” a constitutional provision that allows people to hold firearms.


Associated Press writer Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut, contributed to this report.

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