The senators at the helm of negotiating gun legislation are looking to the Florida law passed in 2018 after the school shooting in Parkland as a potential blueprint for the nation, Sen. Chris Murphy said Sunday.
Murphy (D-Conn.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the bill passed by a Republican legislature and signed into law by then-Republican Gov. Rick Scott has elements that senators are considering as they look to pass gun legislation following a school shooting that took place in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers.
“Well, Sen. Scott, then-Gov. Scott, passed that law in Florida because it was the right thing to do, but also because Republicans saw it as good politics. We have to make the case for Republicans that right now this is good politics,” Murphy said.
The Florida law, known as the red flag law, raised the age to buy long guns, including AR-15s, from 18 to 21, added a three-day waiting period, created a program to allow trained school staff to carry guns and invested $400 million in mental health and school security.
“The template for Florida is the right one. Which is do some significant mental health investment, some school safety money and some modest, but impactful, changes in gun laws,” Murphy said. “That’s the kind of package we’re putting together right now. That’s the kind of package I think can pass the Senate.”
In terms of raising the age on long guns from 18 to 21, Murphy didn’t say whether that would be added to the national law. The senators involved, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), are focused on writing legislation that will reach 60 to 70 votes.
“We’re having a conversation about that specific population, 18 to 21, and how to make sure that only the right people, law-abiding citizens, are getting their hands on weapons,” he said.
Changes to the background check system are also on the table, Murphy said. While he conceded the Senate wasn’t likely to pass comprehensive background checks, changes to the existing system were possible.
Sen. Pat Toomey, who has worked to expand background checks since 2013, said Sunday he hoped the final Senate package would include that policy change. “I certainly hope we’re going to have an expansion of background checks,” Toomey (R-Pa.) said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
He added: “I just think it makes sense.”
More than 250 Texas gun enthusiasts and conservative donors placed a full-page ad in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News endorsing the negotiations between Cornyn and Murphy, specifically, the expanded background checks, red flag laws and a higher age minimum to buy certain firearms.
While Murphy has said he is confident in the bipartisan effort to make something come of gun legislation, he knows attempts in the past have failed.
“I think the possibility of success is better than ever before. But I think the consequences of failure for our entire democracy are more significant than ever,” Murphy said to host Jake Tapper.