Cornyn says "issues" remain in Senate gun deal

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

It doesn’t sound like Texas Sen. John Cornyn isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the Senate negotiations, but some hangups are apparently starting to emerge as Democrats and Republicans move from a “framework” to actual legislation.

Wednesday morning Cornyn met with a group of reporters to give them an update on the status of the bill, and Cornyn suggested that a deal might not be done this week because of a couple of “issues” that are popping up, starting with the language around giving

The plan was to have a bill written and ready for a vote before the Senate recesses for the Independence Day holiday next week, but in order to do that the text of the legislation needs to be finalized in the next couple of days.

Is this really an emerging problem, however, or a negotiating tactic?

Over at HotAir, my colleague Allahpundit notes that a lot of conservatives with a lot of influence, including Tucker Carlson at Fox News, have been ripping the red flag provisions in the “framework” announced last weekend, and wonders if this is a case of Cornyn getting cold feet.

I don’t know. According to Punchbowl, yesterday he made a presentation to GOP senators claiming that 84 percent of Americans who live in households with at least one gun support the package as described in the outline last weekend. No Republican official wants to piss off Fox News primetime, but Cornyn’s not up for reelection until 2026. If the numbers are on his side on this, he can certainly shrug Tucker off.

I still think the odds of the Senate doing “something” are greater than 50%, but every line of legislative text is another opportunity for the deal to fall apart. And it is noteworthy that Cornyn is now talking about grants for programs other than “red flag” laws, given that virtually all of the public statements up to this point have revolved around the federal government giving grants to states to implement those laws. Now it sounds like Cornyn wants to inject federal funds at the state level regardless of whether or not they’re used to establish red flag laws or are applied to existing laws in the 19 states that already have them in place.

I would expect that to be a big hangup for Democrats, many of whom are already complaining that the bill doesn’t go nearly far enough in imposing new restrictions on gun owners. Watering down the red flag provisions even further may cause some of them to walk away, but I don’t think either side wants to be seen as the reason why a deal couldn’t be reached.

Democrats want to be able to point to some sort of legislative accomplishment this year, even as they crank up their campaign rhetoric about the unwillingness of Republicans to approve “reasonable” measures like a ban on gun sales to adults younger than 21, bans on “large capacity” magazines, and criminalizing the sale of those dastardly AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles.

Republicans (or at least the ones who haven’t already come out and panned the framework agreement) are also looking towards November and want to reassure voters that they’ve done “something” on an issue that’s become increasingly important to the electorate over the past couple of months. If the talks collapse and no deal is reached, then both sides are going to point fingers at the other. The question on the minds of every one of the politicians taking part in the negotiations is “who are voters most likely to blame?”