After the shooting at a Texas elementary school, Congress may continue to prove unable and unwilling to pass gun violence legislation

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer quickly launched a pair of firearm background-checking bills Wednesday in response to the Texas school shooting. But the Democrat acknowledged Congress’s adamant opposition to previous legislation aimed at curbing the national epidemic of gun violence.

Schumer begged his fellow Republicans to brush aside the powerful gun lobby and reach down the aisle to secure even a modest compromise bill. But no votes are planned.

“Please, please, please damn — just put yourself in the shoes of those parents,” Schumer said as he opened the Senate.

LIVE UPDATES: Texas elementary school shooting

He threw his hands in the air at the prospect of a seemingly inevitable outcome: “If the slaughter of schoolchildren can’t convince Republicans to oppose the NRA, what can we do?”

The killing of at least 19 children and one teacher at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas has exposed the political reality that the US Congress has proved unwilling or unable to pass substantive federal legislation to curb gun violence in America to adopt.

After 20 preschoolers were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly a decade ago, Congress failed to approve a firearms background check bill, and it signaled the beginning of the end for federal gun violence legislation.

SEE ALSO: US Sees Sharp Rise in Fatal Mass Shootings

Despite the grief on Wednesday after the very similar massacre in Texas, it’s not at all clear that the outcome will be any different.

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

While President Joe Biden was saying “we must act,” significant gun violence legislation has been blocked by Republicans, often along with a handful of conservative Democrats.

Despite mounting mass shootings in communities across the country — two in the past two weeks alone, including Tuesday in Texas and the racist killing of black shoppers at a market in Buffalo, New York, 10 days earlier — lawmakers have been unwilling to put their differences aside to lay and make money the gun lobby to negotiate compromises.

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

Even their own attacks failed to persuade Congress to act. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head at an event Saturday morning outside a Tucson grocery store, and several Republican lawmakers on a congressional baseball team were shot dead during morning practice.

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

Murphy asked his peers for a compromise, saying he was reaching out to Texas Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and called his Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who wrote the bill that failed after Sandy Hook.

“Every moment is just horrible, but when you have babies, little kids, as innocent as can be, oh god,” Manchin told reporters late Tuesday when news of the Texas shooting broke, noting that he had three school-age grandchildren.

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

After Sandy Hook, the compromise bill, written by Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, was supported by a majority of senators. But it fell on a filibuster — blocked by most Republicans and a handful of Democrats unable to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed for progress.

MORE: What we know so far about the victims of Texas elementary school shootings

The same bill was re-released in 2016 after a mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

A modest attempt to bolster the state’s background check system for gun purchases made it into law in Florida after the 2018 Parkland school shooting. The “Fix NICS” measure, which gave states money to comply with the existing National Instant Criminal Background Check system and penalize federal agencies that didn’t, stalled on its own before being plugged into a broader bill was needed to keep the government going.

Former President Donald Trump vowed to take action in 2019 after back-to-back mass shootings shook the nation when one gunman opened fire at an El Paso mall and another aimed at a popular Ohio nightlife spot, killing dozens. In 2018, his administration banned bump stocks, the attachments that can be used to fire semi-automatic weapons such as machine guns, that were used during the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting massacre.

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

Biden, whose party barely controls Congress, has failed to push gun control legislation past the now mostly Republican opposition in the Senate.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed two bills expanding background checks on firearm purchases. A loophole for private and online sales would have been closed. The other would have extended the background check period in response to the church shooting of blacks by a white man in South Carolina.

Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats have a slim majority due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ ability to cast a decisive vote, but need at least 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster.

The standoff has again called for the Senate’s filibuster rules to be scrapped on legislation, as the Senate has already done for nominations, and lowered the threshold to a 51-vote majority for passage.

“Why go through all the hassle of getting that job, of putting yourself in a position of authority, when your answer is that when the carnage increases and our children run for their lives, we do nothing?” Murphy said in a fiery one Speaking late Tuesday as news of the Texas massacre broke.

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

Since 2013, the year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, mass shootings across the United States — described as shootings in which at least four people were injured or killed — have nearly tripled. As of 2022, there have already been 213 mass shootings — a 50% increase from 141 shootings in May 2017 and a 150% increase from 84 in May 2013. The chart above shows the number of shootings per state. Mobile Users: Click here for our map of mass shootings in the US since Sandy Hook.

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


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. After the shooting at a Texas elementary school, Congress may continue to prove unable and unwilling to pass gun violence legislation

Dais Johnston

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