Hundreds of Republican donors call on Congress to act on gun control legislation
DALLAS - A growing number of Republicans are starting to show support for some sort of gun safety legislation following the school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
READ MORE: Uvalde School Shooting News Coverage
The Democrat-run U.S. House will likely pass a bill, but ultimately, there needs to be some Senate Republican support to break a filibuster in that chamber.
"It’s very clear that nothing is going to happen in Washington unless a significant number of Republicans are on board with Democrats," SMU political science professor Matt Wilson said.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn, of Texas, is part of a bipartisan Senate group pushing for gun safety legislation during a time when some Republicans and Democrats are miles apart on the issue.
"Most Democrats in the United States want, at a minimum, a full on assault weapon ban, and anything that stops short of that will leave most Democrats unsatisfied," Wilson said. "There are many Democrats in the United States who would be behind a full firearms ban."
There’s dissent amongst some in the Republican Party.
In a full-page ad, more than 250 self-proclaimed gun enthusiasts, who are Republicans donors, called for a series of federal gun safety measures.
"This piece in the Morning News [Sunday] gives him some cover from his right flank to perhaps entertain the idea of some enhanced gun control measures. Stopping well short of confiscation or a ban or anything like that," Wilson said.
In the Dallas Morning News ad, top Republican donors said they support Cornyn’s focus on "red flag" laws and expanding background checks. They add they are "hopeful" that "those two changes may also spur consideration of raising the age to purchase a gun (from 18) to 21." Last week, President Joe Biden went a step further.
"We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21. Strengthen background checks. Enact safe storage law and red flag laws," Biden said in a primetime address.
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That’s still an uphill battle for the majority of Republicans.
Sunday morning on FOX News Sunday, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise stuck to the typical talking points of school safety and mental health.
"Why don’t we look and see if we can find some tell-tale signs so that there can be intervention," he said.
Wilson believes many Americans share a similar vision.
"To find a way to keep guns away from the small number of people who are actually dangerous and have criminal intent without significantly impeding access to firearms from the larger number of people who will not use them in unlawful ways," he explained.
But it’s still unclear how we get there.
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Some Texas Republican strategists believe the focus in Texas will cover a wider scope.
"The 2023 Legislature must allocate the proper funding to ensure that school districts have the tools they need to keep our children safe. This includes bulletproof shields, school resource officers, and parents engaged in these policy decisions. When we send our children to school, we need to know that they are safe on campus," said GOP consultant William Busby. "We need to ensure that background checks are thorough when purchasing a weapon, that there is considerable mental health funding, and that gun safety measures are upheld. The tragic event in Uvalde demands that we have a tough and necessary conversation about gun policy while respecting and upholding our Second Amendment rights."