After Texas massacre, Republicans wade into gun control debate with proposal to bolster background-check compliance

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- In the aftermath of the mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican said Tuesday that Congress would begin working on legislation to tighten background-check compliances for gun purchases.

The proposal announced by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the GOP whip, could become one of the rare times congressional Republicans have responded with legislative action following a shooting that caused mass casualties. Twenty-six people were killed when a gunman opened fire on Sunday church services.

"Obviously if things like this can happen in spite of the law, then we need to look at that and try to fix it as best we can," Cornyn said. "This seems to be an area where there is bipartisan support."

Officials said the gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, was wrongly able to purchase guns after the Air Force failed to report his domestic violence court-martial to an FBI database.

Republicans are considering ways to prevent mistakes or oversight in background checks, including offering incentives to states to comply.

"This man should not have gotten a gun," House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday.

Republicans pushed back against previous attempts to clamp down on gun purchases, particularly after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn.


After the nation's deadliest mass shooting, which left 58 dead when a gunman opened fire last month on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Congress, which is controlled by Republicans, backed off legislation from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban the sale of "bump stock" devices that can turn rifles into automatic-style weapons like the shooter used in Nevada.

Republicans said they would prefer an administrative, rather than a legislative, fix for bump stocks, an approach favored by the National Rifle Association.

Cornyn said Tuesday that he has asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on bump stock devices.

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