McConnell Announces Tentative Support for Bipartisan Gun Safety Plan

“If the legislation ends up reflecting what the framework indicates, I’ll be supportive.”

Susan Walsh/AP

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated Tuesday that he’ll likely support the bipartisan gun safety plan negotiated by 20 senators, a significant about-face for a politician who has spent decades working tirelessly to fend off even the most milquetoast of gun reforms.  

“I’m comfortable with the framework, and if the legislation ends up reflecting what the framework indicates, I’ll be supportive,” McConnell told reporters. 

If McConnell’s tentative support holds firm, the plan—which still needs to be written as formal legislation—could very well lay the groundwork for the first significant gun laws enacted in a generation.

Drawn up in the aftermath of the sickening mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, the bipartisan deal falls well short of some of the proposed restrictions that seem to garner the support of broad swaths of the American public. As my colleague Mark Follman wrote on Sunday, the deal is slated to include: 

Enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21, funding for states to implement “red flag” laws, and greater protection from gun violence for victims of domestic abuse. The proposal further contains “major investments” in mental health services and resources for communities nationwide, and funding for school security and violence prevention programs.

Beyond McConnell, though, even these extremely modest reforms are already triggering a backlash from Republican Senators, who have begun to voice skepticism about the (non-mandatory) red flag laws that the framework helps fund. Just look at GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer, who reportedly quipped that the Republicans are “more interested in the red wave than we are in red flags, quite honestly.” 

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