McConnell urges Senate GOP colleague to find common ground with Democrats on guns

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he has encouraged Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to discuss the possibility of bipartisan action to address mass shootings with Democrats.

McConnell said on Thursday he had met with Cornyn, who flew back to Texas this week after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, left 19 children and two teachers dead.

“I’ve encouraged him to talk to Senator [Kyrsten] Sinema, Senator [Chris] Murphy and others who are interested in trying to get an outcome that’s directly related to the problem,” he said in an interview with CNN, in reference to two Democrats who have called for bipartisan talks on gun safety legislation.

“And so I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre.”

Asked if the legislative solution that Republicans would welcome involves red flag laws, background checks or mental health access, McConnell declined to offer any specifics. He only said that the goal is to “come up with a proposal, if possible, that’s crafted to meet this particular problem.”

He also said he plans to keep in touch with Democrats and hopes that Congress can reach a deal that can “actually pass and become law rather than just scoring points back and forth.”

Democrats have warned that the issue of gun violence will be on the ballot in the midterm elections this fall. Polls in recent years have consistently indicated overwhelming support for universal background checks.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a leading proponent of passing stricter gun control measures, said that members from both parties planned to have a discussion on the nation’s gun laws Thursday, before leaving for Memorial Day recess.

The Democratic-controlled House have passed legislation that would expand background checks and tighten gun regulations. Republicans, however, have stymied consideration of those bills in the Senate.

The chamber came close to passing gun restrictions in 2013 — several months after the Sandy Hook massacre — when lawmakers considered an amendment proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to expand background checks on all commercial gun sales. But the Senate rejected the measure in a 54-46 vote.

Any proposal addressing guns would require 60 votes to advance to a final vote in the upper chamber, which means Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to join them in supporting a measure for it to pass.