TEXAS, USA — It’s been three weeks since 19 kids and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. That tragedy is now turning into action, with 20 bipartisan U.S. senators announcing a gun violence agreement.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) helped in the creation of this agreement. He tweeted:
“This agreement will provide schools the resources they need to enhance security and keep our children safe. It will invest in mental health programs to support communities and schools. And, it will not infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” he said.
There are a few key pieces to this proposed legislation. One is that it would create an enhanced background check for gun buyers who are under 21 years old. This would create a short waiting period for a check and would allow access to juvenile records and mental health records.
Both the Uvalde shooter and the Buffalo, New York, shooter were just 18 years old, with many other mass shooters also being young.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), said this could be a good move, but it is complicated.
“They want to add juvenile records to the national database – not a bad idea, but a rather complex one, since those records are usually sealed,” shared Congressman Doggett. “It may require a change in laws in each state, and we don't know if that would even happen in Texas for some time.”
U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Uvalde) voted against gun control measures in the House last week that Congressman Doggett supported and says he supports the proposed legislation that has come out of the Senate. On Monday, he spoke to the Washington Post about the Senate agreement.
“People are tired of inaction and there needs to be something that can ultimately passed into law, and I haven't seen that in the House” said Congressman Gonzales. “And I appreciate the Senate, the Senate leadership, and I look forward to seeing the text and some of the framework that's been put together.”
Last week, the U.S. House passed the "Protecting Our Kids Act," which proposed more strict gun control measures, including increasing the age to 21 to buy assault-style weapons and banning high capacity magazines, but it is not expected to pass in the Senate. Congressman Doggett thinks these are key pieces missing from the Senate agreement.
“We know what would prevent another situation, and that is to deny weapons of war to people who cannot get a handgun until they're 21, cannot buy a beer until they're 21,” said Doggett. “But under this apparent agreement, they can still get an assault weapon. And having a good background check system would also help.”
Another piece of the proposed Senate legislation would be making funding available to states that implement red flag laws, which can make it easier to temporarily takes guns from people who could potentially be violent.
Rep. Gonzales said he does not support red flag laws and doesn’t want them in Texas, but he is OK with leaving it up to states.
“So, at the end of the day, what I don't want to have happen is, I don't want the federal government dictating to states what they will or will not do,” explained Gonzales. “Now, you can offer them options all day long, but when you dictate something, I think that that gets ahead of it.”
Another big piece of this agreement is that it would put a significant amount more funding toward school safety and mental health programs. Congressman Gonzales said that to him, this and school security are the most important pieces.
“I think this has the opportunity to have more resources in mental health than any other bill ever passed into law in that in the history of our nation's history,” said Gonzales.
Sen. Cornyn, who helped in the creation of the gun violence agreement, spoke on the Senate floor on Monday and said this:
“As a result of the work we've been doing these last three weeks, working with our colleagues, I believe we are making good progress. Over the weekend, there was an agreement reached between 20 senators – 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats – on a framework or principles for bipartisan legislation to keep our kids and our communities safe."
He also said he would not be in support of adding further gun control measures, outside of what is laid out in this agreement.
“From the beginning, I promised my constituents that when I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, I did not take that oath with the intention of violating it. And so I said at the outset, I would not support any additional restrictions on the rights of law-abiding gun owners," said Cornyn.
KVUE also reached out to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for comment, but we were told he did not have time. He sent this statement the next day:
“Well, it's going to depend on the details, and I'm going to wait to see what specifically they put out so far. When it comes to protecting our constitutional rights, the details matter, the legislative text matters. I think it's critical that we act, but we should act in a way that is focused on solving the problem, we should act to stop violent crime. The way you stop violent crime is you target the bad guys, you target violent criminals, and felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness that are trying to illegally purchase firearms, and you prosecute them and you put them in jail. I think what we ought to be focusing on is not the Democrat priority of undermining the rights of law-abiding citizens, but instead devoting real resources to stopping bad guys, to locking up the criminals, and also to protecting and hardening our schools to make schools safer from the criminal lunatics that are out there. I think there's room for legislation, if the legislation is properly targeted.”
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