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No. 2 GOP senator: Raising age limit for rifles may not save lives, nor have enough votes to pass

The second-ranking Senate Republican broke with President Donald Trump on Friday when he told CNN that the President'...

Posted: Feb 24, 2018 1:34 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2018 1:34 PM

The second-ranking Senate Republican broke with President Donald Trump on Friday when he told CNN that the President's proposal to raise the legal age to buy a rifle to 21 may not "save lives" and doesn't get at the "root of the problem."

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas also said that the idea, which Trump unexpectedly embraced this week, may not have enough GOP support to pass the Senate.

Cornyn said Washington -- which is searching for a legislative response to the massacre last week at a high school in Florida -- should instead focus on passing his more narrow bill, known as "Fix NICS," that would shore up reporting compliance to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Cornyn oversees counting and whipping votes for the GOP leadership. He said he thought other Republicans would share his concerns making it uncertain if Trump's proposal could get the 60 votes it would need to pass the Senate.

"I have not talked to my colleagues about it, but I imagine some of the concerns I've raised would be shared by others," he said. "My attitude is let's get that (Fix NICS) deal done and then if there are other things we need to work on after we've gotten that signed into law, let's keep working."

To date, three GOP senators -- Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Jeff Flake of Arizona -- have expressed support for the age increase.

"I think what we want to focus on is things that will actually save lives," Cornyn said when asked if he supported raising the age limit. "That's why I think the focus should be on the Fix NICS bill, which is the only bipartisan piece of legislation that can be signed into law."

"There are a lot of other ideas out there that people are proposing and that I don't think will actually change any outcomes," he added.

Congress is in recess until next week. Cornyn, who was in the Capitol on Friday to preside over a brief pro forma session, said he thought an age restriction would be problematic if an 18-year-old Marine or police officer were told he or she could not buy a gun.

"I can see that it would be difficult to enforce," he said. "I'm not sure why we would go to those lengths when I don't think that gets to the root of the problem."

Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage. It's likely many Democrats would support raising the limit, but it's a relatively new discussion point, so it's not clear where they all stand.

Cornyn was asked if Trump is getting ahead of most Hill Republicans on gun control and whether he is concerned Trump is driven by an emotional response to the mass killing and the dramatic listening session he held with survivors this week at the White House.

"My perception is he's brainstorming and throwing out possible ideas. There's nothing wrong with that," Cornyn said. "But, obviously, that time at the White House was very emotional with the victims and the families, and I thought it played it to his strength."

"I don't know that many other people who could pull that off, including other past presidents," Cornyn added.

Finally, Cornyn said there are discussions underway between Democratic and Republican leadership to try to advance the Fix NICS bill by unanimous consent, meaning without a roll call vote, as early as Monday. But he said as of now, there is not an agreement to do that.

"I will be fine with that if we can get it, but I don't think we're there yet," he said.

The House passed its own version of Fix NICS but tied it to a controversial conceal carry measure that Democrats strongly oppose and would object to if the Senate tried to take it up.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 144544

Reported Deaths: 3729
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto963299
Hinds9584195
Harrison6848109
Jackson6124118
Rankin528598
Lee484295
Madison4633105
Forrest368186
Jones345287
Lauderdale3350143
Lafayette315049
Washington3097107
Lamar281849
Oktibbeha239261
Bolivar239083
Lowndes228863
Neshoba2164115
Panola211749
Marshall208350
Leflore200890
Pontotoc194728
Monroe190277
Sunflower189755
Lincoln186165
Warren172257
Tate164251
Union160925
Pike160458
Copiah158940
Yazoo151239
Scott150229
Itawamba147634
Coahoma147443
Pearl River144467
Simpson144253
Alcorn143925
Prentiss140429
Grenada136945
Adams136548
Leake131843
Holmes124961
George122224
Tippah121530
Covington117636
Winston116624
Wayne115823
Hancock114139
Marion111046
Attala107833
Tishomingo106142
Newton102729
Chickasaw102432
Tallahatchie95527
Clarke88553
Clay87027
Jasper81122
Walthall75028
Stone72414
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71613
Carroll70614
Lawrence70214
Yalobusha69427
Noxubee69217
Smith68816
Perry65225
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54217
Humphreys52618
Amite51214
Benton48417
Quitman4796
Webster42014
Kemper40917
Wilkinson38622
Jefferson33811
Franklin3235
Choctaw3077
Sharkey30617
Issaquena1114
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 236865

Reported Deaths: 3472
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31043491
Mobile19446360
Tuscaloosa12684150
Madison12528146
Montgomery12122235
Shelby992276
Baldwin837684
Lee759765
Morgan626247
Calhoun6049113
Etowah600564
Marshall596153
Houston510838
DeKalb469635
Cullman421136
Limestone408844
St. Clair403955
Elmore398961
Lauderdale387253
Walker356199
Talladega339044
Jackson302524
Colbert297641
Blount282236
Autauga266139
Franklin246233
Coffee236615
Dale228454
Dallas222331
Russell21923
Chilton218537
Covington215933
Escambia196931
Tallapoosa171790
Chambers171448
Pike156014
Clarke155319
Marion135535
Winston126623
Lawrence123936
Geneva11848
Pickens117618
Marengo117424
Barbour116710
Bibb115717
Butler114341
Randolph100321
Cherokee99624
Hale93231
Washington89918
Clay89623
Fayette86216
Henry8436
Lowndes78929
Monroe77911
Cleburne75614
Macon71720
Crenshaw70330
Bullock69019
Conecuh68214
Perry6726
Lamar6337
Wilcox62818
Sumter56222
Choctaw41813
Greene41317
Coosa3144
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