In the wake of the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School that claimed 21 lives, residents of Uvalde, Texas, a predominantly Catholic community, have turned to prayer to cope with the unexpected tragedy.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Uvalde last Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The Bidens attended church in Uvalde, alongside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Representatives Tony Gonzales and Sheila Jackson Lee, and more, to pray for the victims and their families.
“Do something!” someone in the crowd at Sacred Heart church in Uvalde yelled as the Bidens departed at the conclusion of their almost four hour visit. “We will,” the president responded.
Bipartisan Group of Senators Discuss Gun Legislation
As the residents of Uvalde pray for the victims and for their community, Congress has taken action to prevent further gun violence. A group of both Republican and Democratic senators met last Thursday, and again on Wednesday, to discuss how to advance gun legislation in the wake of recent tragedies in Texas and New York, among others. The bipartisan group has created a framework for gun legislation to protect American communities, churches, schools, hospitals, and more. The proposals include solutions to limit gun access, such as increasing red flag laws.
While attempts to pass legislation to address gun violence have failed in recent years, some senators hope that attempts could be successful now, especially in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Texas. “Times change,” said Republican Pennsylvania Senator Patrick J. Toomey last Thursday. “And there’s a possibility that might work this time.”
Leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties have expressed support for action. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, “I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre.”
McConnell also asked Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas to speak with Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat leading the discussions, to work on a solution. Senator Cornyn and Senator Murphy met virtually last Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss gun legislation proposals, and will continue to work together on this issue.
While acknowledging that it may be difficult to pass sweeping reform, Senator Murphy believes that it is possible to garner bipartisan support for some measures. “Red flag laws are on the table. Background checks, expansion and on the table, as well as things like safe storage of guns,” Murphy said in an interview with “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
To prevent a filibuster, those championing this legislation would need unanimous support from the Democratic party and the support of at least ten Republican senators. A number of Republican Senators have already expressed interest, and attended the meeting last Thursday, including Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Rick Scott of Florida.
House Reps Consider Gun Safety Efforts
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers have begun work on similar legislation. On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a set of gun control legislation known as the “Protecting Our Kids Act.” This act, which consists of eight pieces of legislation, aims to better control guns in America. If passed, it will raise the age to purchase a semiautomatic centerfire rifle from 18 to 21, ban the import, sales, manufacture, transfer, and possession of large-capacity magazines, regulate firearm storage on residential facilities, expand regulations on bump stocks, and apply existing regulations to “ghost guns”.