WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing his own version of gun control legislation in the Senate, but gun violence researchers said it's unclear whether his plan will help prevent mass shootings.
Cruz, a Texas Republican, is pushing the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2019 this fall, a bill he introduced with Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican. Its prospects are likely to depend on whether President Donald Trump supports the measure, and so far there's been no word from the White House.
"We should take up and pass (this bill and) focus on how you actually stop these violent crimes, which is going after the violent criminals and stopping them before they commit," Cruz told reporters at a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
The Grassley-Cruz bill includes provisions to criminalize straw purchasing of firearms, which occurs when someone buys a gun for a prohibited purchaser. It would also ensure that federal agencies efficiently submit records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, NICS, the national system that gun sales personnel use to verify a purchaser's criminal history.
The bill would also increase congressional oversight of the Justice Department's efforts to prosecute illegal gun sales by having the department explain to Congress why it chooses to prosecute some gun cases and not others.
The bill's primary purpose, according to Cruz, is to keep firearms out of the hands of "felons and fugitives," rather than to take away the rights of "law-abiding citizens" to own guns, something he accused state legislators of doing by implementing red flag laws.
"One of the very first pieces of legislation I introduced in the Senate was focused on violent gun crime, stopping gun crime, and the way to do that is you target the bad guys, you target felons and target fugitives. You target those with serious mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves and others," Cruz said Thursday.
The bill's fate is now up to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that he supports Cruz's bill, but wants a decision from Trump on the type of gun control legislation the president would sign into law before he moves forward with any gun-related legislation.
Among the supporters is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.