Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader and one of the 15 Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the gun safety legislation last year, made no public statement about the mass shootings. And in a sign of how low the expectations are that Congress would act to address the most recent violence, he was not even asked about them at his weekly news conference.
Democrats have conceded that they do not have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass a new assault-style weapons ban. Even if they did, there is little chance that Speaker Kevin McCarthy would bring up such a measure for a vote in the House, where Republicans adamantly oppose an assault weapons ban or any measure seen as infringing on gun rights.
On Tuesday night, Mr. McCarthy told reporters that California, his home state, already had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. And he said he would not commit to taking up any new gun laws until he had more information about both shootings, which he described as atypical because of the older age of the gunmen.
Last year, when Democrats still controlled both chambers in Congress, Mr. McCarthy, who was then the minority leader, whipped his members to vote against the bipartisan legislation that went on to become law in June, which enhanced background checks for prospective gun buyers ages 18 to 21. It also provided incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws that allow guns to be temporarily confiscated from people whom a judge deems too dangerous to possess them. The measure also ensured for the first time that serious dating partners would be included in a federal law that bars domestic abusers from purchasing firearms, a longtime priority that has eluded gun safety advocates for years.
In the new Congress, Republicans are not simply pushing back on additional Democratic gun safety efforts; they are proposing legislation that seeks to protect those who sell, own and make firearms.
Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, in the opening days of the new Congress, introduced the “No SmartPay for Anti-2A Companies Act,” legislation that seeks to punish payment processors that list gun retailers in a separate payment category, which the bill’s proponents say could lead to the creation of a national registry of gun owners.
Representative Claudia Tenney, Republican of New York, introduced a resolution that would declare New York State’s new law placing strict limits on guns outside the home, signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last year, to be unconstitutional.