GOP Senator Says Political Power Is More Important Than Gun Safety

While the Senate may be drawing up a framework for new gun control legislation, one Republican senator made it clear on where his priorities stand on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think we’re more interested in the red wave than we are in red flags, quite honestly,” Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said after learning of the framework, according to Igor Bobic of HuffPost.

Even Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he was “comfortable” with the framework that a group of 20 of his colleagues announced over the weekend. The Kentucky senator said he’d back the resulting legislation as long as it “ends up reflecting what the framework indicates.”

Besides making stricter background checks for gun buyers under 21 and funding mental health services and school security, it also would offer incentives for states to pass red-flag laws, as Florida did after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Red-flag laws permit family members, police officers, and doctors to ask a judge to confiscate a person’s firearms if they believe them to be a threat to themselves or others. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have these laws on the books.

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When the plan was first announced, 10 Republican senators backed it — enough to overcome the Senate filibuster. The plan does not go as far as what many gun control activists want, however. It does not, for instance, prohibit teenagers from buying semi-automatic assault rifles. (A bill doing so was first introduced three years ago.)

But even when it comes to the modest changes the framework proposes, Cramer apparently isn’t on board. He probably should be, even if all he cares about is a “red wave” in November. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll recently found that 60 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of gun owners, and 73 percent of all Americans support red-flag laws.

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