Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that strengthening background checks and red flag laws will “lead the discussion” on addressing gun violence in the wake of two mass shootings that left at least 31 people dead.
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McConnell’s remarks on a Kentucky news radio show follow a conversation he had Thursday morning with President Donald Trump, who has called for revisiting stricter background checks for gun buyers as well as red flag laws, which allows authorities to limit a person’s access to guns if they pose an imminent threat to others.
“The president called me this morning about this, he’s anxious to get an outcome. So am I,” said McConnell, who added that he spoke to Trump about starting staff-level discussions about reforming the nation’s gun laws in preparation for the Senate’s return from recess in September.
During the radio show, McConnell reiterated his call for Democrats and Republicans to come up with a bipartisan legislative solution. He described red flag laws and expanding background checks as “two items that for sure will be front and center.”
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On Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called on Trump to bring the Senate back from recess to consider gun control legislation the House passed earlier this year, citing a section in the Constitution that allows a president to convene the Senate or House. McConnell has resisted calls to bring the Senate back.
“If we did that we’d just have people scoring points and nothing would happen,” McConnell said. “There has to be a bipartisan discussion here of what we can agree on. If we do it prematurely it will just be another frustrating experience for all of us and for the public.”
Several Republican senators have come out in favor of red flag laws following the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday that he was working on such a bill with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also has his own red flag bill that he introduced earlier this year.
Trump’s public support for stricter background checks has given new life to legislation from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would expand background checks to all commercial gun sales. But most Republicans have historically resisted that idea, and the proposal has failed twice in the Senate. McConnell was among the Senators who voted against it.
“It’s always a challenge making federal legislation because we do have a lot of differences in our country over an issue like this,” McConnell said.
McConnell also addressed the recent controversy surrounding his campaign’s Twitter account, which Twitter shut down after it posted a video of protesters yelling threats outside the majority leader’s Kentucky home. McConnell accused Twitter of political bias, noting that the social media site allowed the hashtag #MassacreMitch to trend nationally on the platform after the weekend massacres.
“Twitter is perfectly fine with carrying ‘Massacre Mitch’ which is obviously an invitation to violence but when those kinds of words are directed at me they shut us down, locked our account down,” McConnell said. “So we’re in a major war with them and they haven’t given up yet.”
Original story: www.politico.com