Schumer giving more time for bipartisan talks on guns

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday he is encouraging a bipartisan group of negotiators to keep working on a compromise proposal to respond to recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas.

The Senate Democratic leader said last month he would give Senate Republicans only a short amount of time to agree to compromise legislation and warned if they do not strike a deal, he will force a vote on Democratic-crafted gun-control legislation. 

On Tuesday, Schumer indicated he thinks the talks are making enough progress to give them more time.  

“I’m encouraging my Democratic colleagues to keep talking, to see if Republicans will work with us to come up with something that will make a meaningful change in the lives of the American people and stop gun violence,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.  

“Making real progress is very important. Sen. [Chris] Murphy [D-Conn.] has asked for space to have the talks continue, and I have given him the space,” Schumer said. “I look forward to discussing the status of those talks with my colleagues today.”  

Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator on gun legislation, said he would answer colleagues’ questions about the talks at the weekly Senate Democratic luncheon Tuesday. However, he noted, “I don’t think I’ll be presenting anything [to the caucus.] We’re just not ready.”  

Murphy met with the lead Republican negotiator, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) for more than two hours in Sinema’s office Monday evening to discuss ideas to curb gun violence.

“We continue to make progress on narrowing and refining the scope of the package. I think we have work to do with our colleagues this week to make sure what we’re talking about can get 60 votes. I think it can. I think what we have on the table now can be a consensus package,” Murphy told reporters.

“Obviously it’s not close to what I want but it’s meaningful,” he said, acknowledging that proposals to require universal background checks or a ban on assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines won’t be included in any bipartisan deal. 

The White House announced that President Biden would meet with Murphy on Tuesday morning to discuss the Senate negotiations.

Cornyn said on Monday that proposals to prohibit assault-style rifles, raise the minimum age for purchasing such rifles to 21 and ban high-capacity magazines are off the table.  

Instead, the negotiators are looking at proposals to encourage states to establish red flag laws to take guns away from people who are deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. The senators are also discussing requiring or encouraging states to provide juvenile crime records to the federal background check database.