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After Texas elementary school shooting, Congress may continue to be unable and unwilling to pass gun violence legislation

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer swiftly rolled out a pair of gun background check bills on Wednesday in response to the Texas school massacre. But the Democrat acknowledged Congress’s adamant rejection of previous legislation aimed at curbing the national epidemic of gun violence.

Schumer implored fellow Republicans to put aside the powerful gun lobby and reach out for even a modest compromise bill. But no vote is expected.

“Please, please, please put yourself in these parents’ shoes just for once,” Schumer said as he opened the Senate.

LIVE UPDATES: Elementary school shooting in Texas

He raised his hands at what might seem like an inevitable outcome: “If the school boy massacre can’t convince the Republicans to counter the NRA, what can we do?”

The killing of at least 19 children and a teacher at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, laid bare the political reality that the US Congress has been unwilling or unable to pass substantive federal legislation to combat gun violence in America.

Congress failed to approve a gun background check bill after 20 kindergartners were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly a decade ago, which marked the beginning of the end of federal gun violence legislation.

SEE ALSO: US sees surge in deadly mass shootings

Despite the outpouring of grief Wednesday after the extremely similar Texas massacre, it’s not at all clear that there will be a different outcome.

“We accept this as the new normal,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said on “CBS Mornings.” “It’s our choice.”

While President Joe Biden has declared “we must act”, substantial legislation on gun violence has been blocked by Republicans, often with a handful of conservative Democrats.

Despite the increase in mass shootings in communities nationwide – two in the past two weeks alone, including Tuesday in Texas and the racist murder of black shoppers at a market in Buffalo, New York, 10 days more early – lawmakers were unwilling to set aside their differences and buck the gun lobby to find a compromise.

WATCH: President Biden says ‘we must act’ after Texas school shooting

Even the targeting of theirs has not moved Congress to act. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, was shot in the head during an event Saturday morning outside a Tucson grocery store, and several Republican lawmakers from a congressional baseball team were shot during practice in the morning.

“The conclusion is the same,” said Sen. Cory Booker, DN.J. “I don’t see any of my fellow Republicans coming forward right now and saying, ‘Here’s a plan to stop the carnage. So it’s just normal now, which is ridiculous.”

Advocating with his colleagues for a compromise, Murphy said he was reaching out to two Republican senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and called fellow Democrat Joe Manchin, author of the bill that failed after Sandy Hook. .

“Every moment is just awful, but when you have babies, grandkids, as innocent as they come, oh my God,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday night when news broke of the Texas shooting, noting that he had three school-aged grandchildren.

“It doesn’t make any sense at all why we can’t use common sense – common sense things – and try to prevent some of this from happening.”

In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, compromise legislation, drafted by Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, was supported by a majority of senators. But he fell into a filibuster – blocked by most Republicans and a handful of Democrats, unable to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to advance.

MORE: What we know about Texas elementary school shooting victims so far

The same bill died again in 2016, after a mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

A modest effort to strengthen the federal background check system for gun purchases was enacted after the Parkland school shooting in Florida in 2018. The “Fix NICS” measure, which provided cash to states to comply with the national instant criminal background check system and penalize federal agencies that don’t, stalled on its own before being incorporated into a larger bill needed to keep the government in walk.

Former President Donald Trump vowed to act in 2019, after back-to-back mass shootings rocked the country when a gunman opened fire at a mall in El Paso and another targeted a living area popular nightlife in Ohio, killing dozens of people. In 2018, his administration banned bump stocks, attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns and were used in the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas.

But Trump eventually backed out of the proposals, under pressure from both the National Rifle Association and other groups.

Biden, whose party has little control of Congress, has failed to get the gun violence bills past what is now mostly Republican opposition in the Senate.

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on gun purchases. We would have closed a loophole for private and online sales. The other would have extended the background screening period, a response to a church shooting of black people by a white man in South Carolina.

The two languished in the 50-50 Senate where Democrats have a narrow majority due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ ability to vote in a tie but need at least 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster.

The standoff renewed calls to scrap Senate filibuster rules for legislation, as the Senate has already done for nominations, lowering the threshold to a 51-vote majority for passage.

“Why are you going through all the hassle of getting this job, putting yourself in a position of authority if your answer is that as the slaughter increases, as our children run for their lives, we do nothing ?” Murphy said in a fiery speech Tuesday night as news of the Texas massacre spread.

Cornyn told reporters he was on his way to Texas and would speak to them later. Cruz released a statement calling it “a dark day. We are all completely sickened and heartbroken.”

Since 2013, the year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, mass shootings in the United States – described as shootings in which at least four people are injured or killed – almost tripled. Already there have been 213 mass shootings in 2022, a 50% increase from 141 shootings in May 2017 and a 150% increase from 84 shootings in May 2013. The graph above shows the number shootings by state. Mobile users: Click here to see our map of US mass shootings from Sandy Hook.

The number of people injured or killed does not include the suspect or perpetrator. These graphs show the number of victims in all mass shootings since 20 children and six adults were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on December 14, 2012.


Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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