GOP Senate, House leadership at odds over gun deal

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of 14 Republican senators to vote to begin debate on a legislative response to the shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas that includes several gun control measures like opening up juvenile records for background checks on young adults purchasing firearms and offering federal grant money to states that implement “red flag” laws and other crisis intervention programs, but his counterpart in the House is giving the bipartisan agreement a much cooler reception.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise say they’ll formally oppose the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” and will be whipping the GOP caucus to follow suit.

Their position is a break from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who was one of 14 Senate Republicans who voted to advance the legislation Tuesday evening. In a statement, McConnell called the bill a “commonsense package of popular steps” to prevent gun violence.

A number of conservative Republicans, though, are voicing strong opposition to the bill.

The House Freedom Caucus on Tuesday announced its formal opposition to the bill, pointing to concerns about money going to implement “red flag” laws that keep those deemed a danger to themselves or others from keeping or obtaining firearms.

“Red flag laws permit the preemptive seizure of firearms from Americans without due process by allowing any person to report a gunowner to law enforcement and petition for the confiscation of that individual’s firearms, even before the gunowner has an opportunity to defend themselves,” the Freedom Caucus said in a statement.

With Democrats in control of the House, anything passed by the Senate could be approved without a single Republican vote, but there will be a few GOP members who end up signing on to the bill. When House Democrats recently passed a much more restrictive series of bills that would have set up a federal “red flag” law, raised the age to purchase a modern sporting rifle to 21, imposed a ban on “large capacity” magazines and more it got the support of five Republican House members, and we’ve already seen one Republican who voted against that package announce his support for the Senate agreement.

Gonzales’ district includes the city of Uvalde, so maybe it’s not a complete shock to see him announce his support for the Senate deal, but as I said, he did vote against the House Democrats’ legislative response, telling CBS News afterwards that he’s not in favor of anything that “infringes on lawful gun owners, period.”

I’d argue that there are, in fact, some infringements in the Senate agreement, even they’re not as immediately obvious as the package put together by Democrats in the House, and I’d love to hear Gonzales explain why he doesn’t believe that anything in the Senate deal intrudes upon the right to keep and bear arms.

Gonzales will have some company among his fellow Republicans, but coming up this afternoon on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’ll be talking to one of the many GOP representatives who says he’s a “no” on the Senate bill. Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida will explain why the supposedly “modest” measures are still a bridge too far for him, as well as what he’d prefer to see as an effective and constitutionally sound response to the horrific murders in Uvalde.