“Not gonna happen.”
That’s what Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) told The Reload on Wednesday about prospects for another gun bill. His Democratic colleagues have been pushing for further restrictions in the wake of the Highland Park shooting, including his main negotiating partner in last month’s successful bipartisan gun talks.
“We have now broken the back of the gun lobby,” Senator Chris Murphy (D., Mass.) said in a video on Monday. “We now have made possible changes in our gun laws that can keep our communities safer. Today is a reminder that we still have a long road to travel.”
But Cornyn is not interested in pursuing expansions to the gun law President Joe Biden signed into law just over a week ago. The other 14 Senate Republicans who voted for the gun deal don’t seem interested either. While several condemned the 4th of July attack and offered support, none publicly advocated for the federal government to consider new restrictions. None responded to requests for comment on the potential for new gun legislation.
A Republican staffer, who works for one of the Senators that supported the gun deal and asked not to be named in order to speak freely, said there is “zero interest” in passing another gun bill. They said comments from Murphy were not indicative of new bipartisan negotiations but, rather, a play at “protecting the left flank.”
“Some on the left want Senate to pass the House bill,” the Republican staffer said. “But that’s not happening. I don’t foresee a groundswell of support among Republicans.”
Adding to the problem for Republicans is the policy Democrats have centered their appeals around. Democrats have been pushing an “assault weapon” ban as their solution for preventing future shootings, though Highland Park already has such a ban. Illinois Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin both called for Congress to implement a new ban. But no Senate Republican currently supports banning sales of popular rifles such as the AR-15, which puts the Senate right back at a crossroads on guns despite last month’s bipartisan deal.
The staffer said Republicans would happily vote on a proposal, though, because they view it as most likely to hurt moderate Democrats.
“The dynamics in the house are totally different,” the staffer said. “90 percent of the Dem members come from solid liberal districts. No skin off their back voting in support. It gets a lot more dicey in statewide elections for Dem senators.”
They also said that’s why it’s unlikely there will be any movement on an “assault weapons” bill.
“It puts certain Democratic senators in tough spots,” the Republican staffer said. “Schumer generally tries to avoid those.”
Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) did not respond to a request for comment.
Erik Eva contributed to this report.