Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said the recent bipartisan agreement restricting access to firearms that he helped negotiate signifies “a political loss” for President Joe Biden.
Cornyn was the leader of the negotiations, along with Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
“People are going to describe this the wrong way, but fundamentally this is about keeping our kids safe at school,” Cornyn told Raw Story. “Look at all the things that President Biden said he wanted — none of that’s in there.”
“But we’re going to focus on school safety and mental health, identifying these young men before they become dangerous, getting them treatment,” he added. “[If] they go to buy a firearm, accessing the state juvenile records to meet with an enhanced review makes a lot of sense.”
President Biden conceded Sunday that the package does not do everything he thinks is needed but still “reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.”
The president thanked Senators Cornyn, Murphy, Sinema, and Tillis for their roles in the negotiations in his statement.
Cornyn and Murphy have become an unlikely duo regarding gun-related measures.
Last year, the senators discussed potential legislation to reform or expand background checks for gun purchases. However, those negotiations stalled in June 2021 and ended with no resolution. The two senators also previously negotiated a deal that became the Fix NICS Act.
Cornyn was one of 10 Republican senators who were parties to the agreement, along with 10 Democratic senators.
“I worked closely with my colleagues to find an agreement to protect our communities from violence while also protecting law-abiding Texans’ right to bear arms,” Cornyn said in a statement on Twitter announcing the deal.
The other senators who signed on to the agreement include Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Text of the legislation has not been released, but a press release from the group of 20 senators states that the proposal will place more restrictions on gun purchasers under the age of 21, pay states to implement red flag laws, and increase spending on mental health and school safety measures.
The senators support the measures because “families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities,” according to the press release.
Despite Cornyn’s assurances that the package is a loss for President Biden, he and the nine other Republican senators who supported the agreement have received criticism from conservatives for joining with Democrats to form the package.
“‘Red flag’ laws are a weapon to use against anyone they decide to classify as mentally ill,” wrote Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters.
“A federal red-flag law would create millions of second-class citizens. It won’t stop mass shooters but will deprive millions of Americans of due process and their Second Amendment rights,” added Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY).
Pro-gun rights group Gun Owners of America (GOA) said that Republican lawmakers are “getting nothing in return” while “compromising [Americans’] rights.”
“Federal dollars to bribe your state legislators into enacting unconstitutional ‘red flag’ laws, which could allow a court to seize your weapons, without any due process, simply based on anonymous tips,” GOA wrote in a Twitter thread.