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Senate GOP Blocks Domestic Terrorism Bill, Gun Policy Debate

by : Shiala Mahmood on :
Senate GOP Blocks Domestic Terrorism Bill, Gun Policy Debate
Senate GOP Blocks Domestic Terrorism Bill, Gun Policy Debate (Alamy)

Senate Republicans have blocked legislation designed to combat domestic terrorism, which would have opened up debate on measures to reduce gun violence.

The decision comes just days after a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, killing 19 students and 2 teachers.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention in response to a deadly shooting in Buffalo, New York. The shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, killed 10 people and injured 3, with 11 of the 13 victims being Black.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer scheduled a vote for today (26 May) for the legislation, which would set up offices at the Justice Department, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to tackle domestic terrorism.

However, the vote failed to reach the require 60 votes needed to pass the bill, with the Republican Party widely viewing the legislation as unnecessary.

United States Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Credit: Alamy
United States Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Credit: Alamy

Despite the setback, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy is negotiating with a number of Republican Senators to come to a bipartisan consensus, as the senate requires 60 votes to avoid a Republican filibuster. The senator has vowed to find 10 Republicans who could support a gun-control bill.

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Murphy said: "This is a super anodyne, inoffensive, apolitical piece of legislation that just seeks to be more coordinated in taking down violent white supremacists. I mean, if we can’t find consensus on fighting white supremacists, what can we find consensus on?"

Republican Senator Rick Scott previously signed gun-control legislation following a high school massacre in his state in 2018, but on Wednesday, he stated the focus should be on mental health rather than domestic terrorism.

He said: "We need to stop and say what’s the real cause of the problem and start addressing that. We have a mental health crisis in this country.

“The first thing everyone wants to do is say, ‘oh, we need to take away everybody’s guns.’ … Every case is different, but in almost every case, there’s red flags. I mean, what are we doing with it?”

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Red Flag laws currently allow law enforcements to temporarily confiscate guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others by a federal court or a medical professional.

Senator John Cornyn Credit: Alamy
Senator John Cornyn Credit: Alamy
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Republican Senator Josh Hawley has shared that he supported a federal 'Red Flag' law, but believes the domestic bill would be dangerous.

He said: "I think that it’s dangerous. I don’t think any administration should have that power and I think, quite frankly, it is a purely political stunt by the Democrats — and it’s a dangerous one."

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Murphy is hopeful that the Democrats can reach a consensus with the Republicans, explaining: "Right now we're just trying to find what the potential common ground is amongst Republicans.

"So, that certainly could be in the background check space. It could be in the red flag space."

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