Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has been leading bipartisan talks in the Senate on gun control legislation, said more Republicans are at the table working toward changing gun laws and investing in mental health than “at any time since Sandy Hook.”
“I’ve never been part of negotiations as serious as these,” he said in an interview Sunday with CNN’S “State of the Union.”
“We are talking about a meaningful change in our gun laws, a major investment in mental health, perhaps some money for school security that would make a difference. On the table is red flag laws, changes to our background check system to improve the existing system, a handful of other items that will make a difference,” he said.
Murphy on Friday told CNN that there are a lot of “outstanding” issues that still needed to be hammered out, including whether to raise the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21.
“I don’t know yet whether there’s enough support to get to 60 votes on that,” Murphy said of raising the purchasing age. “There’s a lot of outstanding questions that we’ll have to answer next week.”
Murphy, who has been an outspoken advocate of gun control since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, has been meeting with senators about potential changes to current gun laws in the wake of a spate of mass shootings, including last month’s violence by gun-wielding teenagers in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
Murphy said Sunday that the group’s discussions have been around the clock, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) giving him until the end of this week to strike a compromise.
“As late as last night we were engaged in conversations about trying to put a package together. I think Republicans realize how scared parents and kids are across the country. I think they realize that this time cannot be nothing,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who was tapped by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to lead the negotiations for his party, told Politico that if the Senate can’t agree on a legislative response after the recent shooting in Texas “it will be embarrassing.”
“It would feed the narrative that we can’t get things done in the public interest,” he said.
Cornyn, in an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, said the shooting has “given us a sense of urgency that maybe we haven’t had in the past.”
He said he’s “not naive” but instead “hopeful.”
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), one of the GOP members in the group, also expressed optimism in their progress Wednesday.
“We are making rapid progress toward a commonsense package that could garner support from both Republicans and Democrats,” Collins said in a statement.