Lawmakers reluctant to pursue gun control measures following Nashville school shooting
The recent school shooting in Nashville has not been enough to sway a divided Congress to move forward with substantive gun control efforts.
The deadly Nashville school shooting on Monday sparked the usual cycle of condolences from lawmakers in Washington. However, both sides have quickly conceded that the violence will not be enough to convince a divided Congress to take substantive steps to control guns.
Joe Biden, after three children and three adult victims were killed at a Christian private elementary school in Nashville in a shooting on Monday, said he had done everything he could to tackle gun control. He urged lawmakers on Capitol Hill to take action. The shooting hasn't compelled Washington lawmakers - especially Republican leadership and members from Tennessee - so far to move forward on gun control. This is a sign that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives and the nearly deadlocked Senate are still stuck in their impasse.
According to the National Gun Violence Archive, the Nashville shooting was only one of 130 mass shootings that have occurred this year.
Three senior administration officials have confirmed that the White House is not planning to make a major push for gun safety reforms in response to the tragic Nashville school shooting. Biden and White House officials, however, will continue to call on Congress to take action.
Biden told CNN's MJ. Lee on Tuesday that he couldn't do more than plead for the Congress to be reasonable.
"I have used all of my executive power to deal with guns on my own...The Congress must act." Majority of Americans think assault weapons are bizarre and crazy. They are against it. He added, "I think Congress might pass an assault weapons ban."
Since taking office, Biden has taken over 20 executive actions to address gun issues. These include regulating the sale of stabilizing braces which effectively convert pistols into rifles. In 2022, he signed a bipartisan law that expanded background checks and provided federal funding for'red-flag laws'. However, it did not ban any guns and was far from what Biden's party advocated.
Gun reform and the political realities in a divided Congress
White House officials are realistic about the political reality Democrats face, given the current makeup in Congress. Republicans who control the House rejected Biden’s call for an assault weapon ban. Even though both chambers were under Democratic control during the first two of Biden's tenure, an assault weapons ban did not gain traction due to the 60-vote requirement for passage.
Many Republicans, especially those in leadership positions and the Tennessee delegation, are either reluctant to use the violent violence in Nashville as an opportunity for reform, or they have outright rejected any calls for further action regarding gun regulation, arguing there is no appetite for more restrictions.
Kevin McCarthy, the House Speaker, refused to answer any questions Tuesday about whether Congress should take action on guns following the shooting in Nashville. House Majority leader Steve Scalise, who is a Republican from Louisiana and survived being shot last year, did not answer when asked whether the recent shooting at a Nashville school would prompt Congress to take any action.
When asked what his conference would do to combat the recent spate of mass shootings he only mentioned improving mental health and securing school.
Let's look at the facts. Let's see what we can do about securing schools. We've discussed things we can do, but it seems that the other side wants to take away guns from law-abiding citizens. By the way, that's also not the solution.
Sen. Thom Tillis said Tuesday that he does not see a way forward for new gun legislation. He was a key GOP negotiator on last year's bipartisan legislation. He believes that legislators should focus on implementing the laws already passed.
Tillis stated that the full implementation of the gun law passed last summer would take many months or years. There are many provisions that have not been implemented or will be in the future. Let's start with that.
Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, whose committee is responsible for gun policy, stated Tuesday that he does not believe Congress should limit assault weapons. However, he refused to explain why it was okay to ban semi-automatic rifles, but not fully automatic ones.
He continued, 'The Second Amendment remains the Second Amendment'. I believe in the Second Amendment, and we shouldn't punish law-abiding Americans.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina's top Republican senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee who was involved in previous negotiations on gun laws, said, 'I'm not sure if there is much room to do more but I will certainly look and see.
Graham stated that he was against a ban of AR-15s, which were the guns used by the Nashville suspect in Monday's shooting. He noted that he owned one and that it would be 'hard to implement a red flag law'.
Andy Ogles responded to CNN's Manuraju when asked why he would not support a ban on AR-15s. He said, "Why don't we talk about the most important issue that faces the country, which is mental health?" Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, a Republican senator, also refused to comment on calls for an AR-15 ban after the Nashville shooting.
The tragedy that occurred in my state is the result of someone who was depraved and very, very sick. The result was devastating to my community. We are all in mourning, including the victims, their families and my community, said Hagerty to CNN.
When asked about the possibility of banning these weapons, he replied: "I am certain that politics will play a role in everything." Right now, I am not focused on politics. I'm focusing on the victims.
Tennessee GOP Rep. Tim Burchett said to reporters that laws don't work in order to reduce gun violence.
He said: 'We don't want to legislate the evil. It's not going to happen.' You're wrong if you think Washington will fix this problem. This problem will not be solved by them. They're the problem.
Burchett responded to CNN by citing self-defense when asked why people need AR-15s. Burchett also said that while other countries may not observe the United States high number of shootings, they do not have their freedom.
Some Democrats in Congress have criticized the House Republicans' disinterest.
We know we can do better as a nation and as a Congress. So shame on Speaker McCarthy, who didn't bring it up. Shame on him for not saying that we could and would do more. All we will get is thoughts and prayers from their Twitter accounts and that's just not enough, said Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar during a recent press conference.
The Senate's Majority Whip Dick Durbin, on the other hand, told reporters he was 'not hopeful' the Senate could pass gun legislation in this Congress.
He said, 'I don't feel very optimistic, but we must try.'
Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat Senator, called on Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer to force the vote on a ban on semi-automatic firearms to make Republicans accountable.
He told CNN that 'we need to fight in Congress and I am prepared to lead this fight. Others are too'. "The American people deserve to understand where we stand on gun violence prevention that is based on common sense."
Schumer refused to say if he intended to bring legislation on assault weapons before the Senate for a vote in this Congress. The support is not enough to override a filibuster.