GOP leaders move slowly on tougher gun laws
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday showed little interest in stricter gun control proposals being floated in Congress, leaving the issue in the hands of wary Senate leaders and President Donald Trump, whose shifting views have left no clear strategy for legislative action.
As student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting lobbied lawmakers for tougher gun laws, Ryan acknowledged “system failures” in Florida that he said Congress should review.
But GOP leaders did not promise votes on the matter and stopped short of offering solutions, beyond a pending bill aimed at increasing participation in the existing federal background check system. The bill uses new incentives and penalties to encourage better compliance with current law, but does not expand the pool of gun buyers required to undergo background checks before buying a gun.
Even as he endorsed the measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell downplayed its significance, saying it would not be a “panacea” for the rash of gun violence.
But McConnell said he wanted to “at least show some progress toward dealing with one element of the problem.”
Republican leaders, who have majority control of the House and Senate, are reluctant to lead on legislation without knowing they have Trump’s full support and can rely on his popularity with a core flank of the GOP electorate to shield them from political blowback.
But Trump, who is inviting lawmakers to the White House today, has proven an inconsistent partner in such policy debate, including the issue of gun violence.