The mass murder of 19 children and two of their teachers in Texas last week prompted Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to say he’s hopeful Senators can find “a bipartisan solution” to the problem. But if that sort of response sounds familiar—and not particularly inspiring—that’s because he’s said it before, only to close the door later.
McConnell told CNN that he “encouraged” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to engage with Democrats Sens. Chris Murphy (CT) and Sen. Krysten Sinema (AZ) about potential areas of agreement on new gun laws.
“I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution,” he said.
While it is notable that McConnell signaled his willingness to talk about changes to laws that regulate gun ownership in the United States, in McConnell’s case, it’s only a small step above immediately dismissing action on guns.
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Time and again, McConnell’s “hope” for a bipartisan solution has simply prolonged the inevitable: inaction.
In June 2016, after a man with a gun murdered 49 people at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, McConnell told reporters “nobody wants terrorists to have firearms.”
“We’re open to serious suggestions from the experts as to what we might be able to do to be helpful,” he said.
But when a bill that would have given the Department of Justice the ability to “deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists” was put for a vote, it failed along party lines with the exception of one vote. McConnell was one of the 53 Republican senators who voted no.
In August 2019, after mass shootings within 24 hours at a Walmart in El Paso and a nightclub in Dayton, then-President Donald Trump expressed support for “really common-sense, sensible, important background checks.”
“Today, the president called on Congress to work in a bipartisan, bicameral way to address the recent mass murders which have shaken our nation,” McConnell said in a statement on Aug. 5. “Senate Republicans are prepared to do our part.”