HOUSTON — Senator John Cornyn faced a tough crowd when speaking at this year's Texas GOP convention in Houston.
Before he spoke, he was met with boos immediately upon taking the stage at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
The crowd grew louder when he spoke about guns and the legislation he and other Senate lawmakers are drafting in response to the mass shootings that have happened across the U.S. over the past two months.
"And making sure violent criminals and the mentally ill can not buy firearms," Cornyn said at the podium of the GOP convention. "That primarily means enforcing current law. That's what I've heard from many of you here today and this week and that's what we're working on, nothing more and nothing less."
Cornyn is spearheading the new gun legislation that is being drafted. He said he is passionate about the second amendment and has repeatedly said he will not add a provision that will restrict the rights of current, law-abiding gun owners. Instead, it will focus on keeping guns out of the hands of those who, by current law, are not supposed to have them.
“If we’re gonna change anything in this country, it should not be the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms. That’s what I made clear to my fellow senators who approached me, asking me to work on mental health and school safety legislation. I said, ‘Let’s see if we can find a better way of enforcing existing law and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill,'" Cornyn said during the convention.
During his speech, the senator highlighted Republicans’ push-back against tougher proposals Democrats wanted following the Uvalde mass shooting, including banning high-capacity magazines.
“And if there is any lesson that we can learn from the recent shootings, it’s that America must have a reckoning with our broken mental health system.”
Cornyn’s fellow U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, spoke during the convention beforehand.
He vowed to protect second amendment rights but did not address Cornyn or the bipartisan effort specifically.
“If we lived in a sane, rational world, we’d be coming together saying ‘How do we stop violent crime? We go after the criminals, we go after the felons, we go after the fugitives, we go after those with serious mental illness…and we put em in jail and we lock them up and we keep them out of our schools and we keep them out of our churches, and we keep our families safe," Cruz said.
Details of the new proposed gun legislation remain in negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, with disagreements over how tightly the initiatives should be drawn. That means the proposal's potency — and perhaps whether some parts survive — remain undetermined as it's translated into legislation.
One big sticking point from the Senate negotiations is closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole”. That covers gun rights for abusive dating partners.
Read more details on the proposed legislation here.