Republican senators who, in the past, have worked with Democrats on gun control told the Daily Caller News Foundation they will not support new attempts to pass a more far-reaching firearm ban in the lame-duck session of the 117th Congress, following a mass shooting in Colorado Springs on Nov. 20.
In June, 15 GOP senators voted with Democrats to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, following the killing of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which added “domestic violence abusers” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and enhanced the review process for gun purchasers under 21 years of age.
However, none of these lawmakers who responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation indicated they would support a bill that encompasses the AR-15, a popular rifle among American gun owners.
“Senator [Pat] Toomey [of Pennsylvania]…does not support a ban on assault weapons because it would prohibit law-abiding citizens from owning what are some of the most popular firearms in the United States,” a spokesperson for Toomey told the DCNF.
The office of Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, meanwhile, shared an article with the DCNF about Graham owning an AR-15, indicating his opposition to the ban.
A spokesman for Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who also voted for June’s legislation, said that he had been “consistently opposed” to an assault weapons ban and would not be supporting new legislation. This was echoed by an aide to Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who said that Sasse would not support the ban even though he is leaving the Senate at the end of the year.
Such a ban is a “complete non-starter” said Daniel Keylin, a spokesman for Republican Sen. Thom Tills of North Carolina. Additionally, Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana and Joni Ernst of Iowa told the DCNF they’d vote against any proposed ban.
After failing to pass a ban through the Senate in July, Congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden have made it a top agenda item in the last two months of the outgoing Congress. Democrats will need ten GOP votes to overcome a filibuster, after which they may pass the bill with a simple majority of 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaker.
“Does it have 60 votes in the Senate right now? Probably not. But let’s see if we can try to get that number as close to 60 as possible,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who is leading the effort to gather support for a bill, on CNN on Sunday. Retiring and moderate GOP Senators have been coveted for their support for other Democratic-led initiatives, such as a bill to give immigration relief to participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Five Republicans apart from Toomey – Portman, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma – did not seek reelection to the chamber. Apart from them, Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who was recently reelected, are considered “moderate” Republicans.
Following the Club Q shooting, talks among Senate Democrats for a ban on certain firearms ramped up, with Biden publicly calling for legislative action on semiautomatic weapons.
“The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick. Just sick…It has no, no social redeeming value. Zero. None. Not a single solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturers” Biden said to reporters on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, where he was spending Thanksgiving with his family at the home of billionaire donor David Rubenstein.
He added that he would begin “counting the votes” to pass such a bill. By contrast, some GOP lawmakers in the House, where Democrats will lose their majority in the next Congress, have said they will support some firearms.
“There are ways you can write it where it preserves due process, protects law-abiding gun owners’ rights, but at the same time advances community safety,” said Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania’s 1st District on Fox News Sunday. Fitzpatrick was one of two GOP congressmen to vote for H.R. 1808, a bill that sought to ban assault weapons that passed the House in July.