The Latest: McConnell says Senate gun bill not a 'panacea'
Feb. 27, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Trump, Congress and guns (all times local):
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a firearms background check bill moving forward in the Senate is not a "panacea" to gun violence, but a step Congress could take after the Florida high school shooting.
McConnell says Congress should focus on areas of bipartisan agreement to "at least show some progress."
The proposal would strengthen the existing National Instant Criminal Background Check System with new penalties and rewards to encourage federal agencies and states to properly utilize it. Its records are used to determine whether someone can legally buy a gun.
Democrats say Congress needs to do more, including expanding background checks to cover online sales and gun shows.
A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump continues to support raising the age requirement to buy some firearms.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Trump continues to support raising the age, after the president did not mention the idea during a meeting with governors Monday.
Sanders says Trump is meeting with lawmakers Wednesday and the White House expects "that to be a topic of discussion."
The National Rifle Association has opposed any such changes. Sanders says Trump "knows that everyone doesn't necessarily agree."
Sanders is declining to offer any specifics on what the White House may propose.
A bipartisan group of nine senators is reintroducing legislation that would prevent individuals on terrorism watch lists from buying guns.
The proposal, led by Maine Republican Susan Collins and North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, was rejected by the Senate in 2016. But after the Florida high school shooting that killed 17 people, the senators say it's a common sense bill with broad support.
Collins said, "If you are considered to be too dangerous to fly on an airplane, you should not be able to buy a firearm."
The measure would give the attorney general authority to deny firearm sales to nearly 3,000 individuals on the federal No Fly or Selectee lists, and alert law enforcement of attempted purchases by an individual on the lists in the past five years.
Rep. Steve Scalise says people at the FBI should be held accountable after it didn't act on a tip about the man who later allegedly killed 17 people at a Florida high school.
The No. 3 House GOP leader suffered life-threatening wounds when a gunman shot several people last June at a congressional Republican baseball practice.
Scalise tells reporters the FBI had the Florida shooter's name "on a silver platter" and says "there are people at the FBI that chose to let this go." He says lawmakers should "hold people accountable."
Scalise says he received a new baseball jersey last week while visiting the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The school's jersey he was wearing at the practice "didn't hold up" and is being held as evidence by the FBI.
Television personality Geraldo Rivera is expressing skepticism that President Donald Trump will achieve any new gun control measures.
On Twitter Tuesday Rivera says: "Incredibly we're set to do nothing re gun control again. The only person in the country strong enough to stand up to #NRA @realDonaldTrump is apparently taking a pass after dropping modest reform of banning sales of semi automatics to kids not old enough to buy cigarettes & beer."
Rivera recently pitched Trump on increasing the minimum age for rifle purchases.
Trump has expressed interest in the idea. But he has not backed any legislation and did not mention the concept when meeting with governors to discuss gun violence Monday.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn says the Senate should "immediately" pass a bill he has co-sponsored to strengthen federal background checks for gun purchases.
The bill would penalize federal agencies that don't properly report required records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and reward states that comply by providing them with federal grant preferences.
Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, says he was dismayed that Senate Democrats want to debate other ideas before taking up the background checks bill, known as "Fix NICS."
Cornyn said Tuesday that, "if our attitude is, 'I want everything on my list or nothing,' we're going to end up with nothing" on gun control after the Florida high school shooting.
He urged senators to move "immediately to pass Fix NICS and build from there."
House Speaker Paul Ryan is showing no interest in banning assault weapons or expanding background checks for gun sales online or at gun shows. He also says he thinks President Donald Trump's idea of arming teachers is best left to local governments.
Ryan acknowledged there were "system failures" at the Florida school shooting and told reporters a lot of questions "need answers."
Asked about proposals for stricter background checks or barring assault weapon sales, Ryan says Congress shouldn't be "banning guns from law-abiding citizens."
The House already passed legislation making modest fixes to the gun-purchase background check system. But the package stalled in the Senate because it also expands other gun owner rights. Ryan says if the Senate keeps just the background check provision, the House will "cross that bridge when we get to it."
President Donald Trump says political leaders sometimes need to buck the National Rifle Association.
Republicans controlling Congress are less sure of that approach, keeping largely quiet amid public calls for stricter gun laws.
In the Senate, a bipartisan bill seeks to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Trump's ideas to arm many teachers, lift the minimum age for purchasing assault rifles to 21 and impose stricter background checks have fallen flat so far. The White House is inviting lawmakers from both parties for meetings this week.
The Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, questions Trump's proposal to raise the age limit for assault weapons, calling it an arbitrary age increase.