Republican Senators Risk NRA Backlash Over Gun Control Bill

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Several Senate Republicans are breaking with the NRA over an important gun safety proposal.

In recent weeks, demands for gun control have reached a boiling point nationwide. Even Senate Republicans have shown support for a bipartisan plan, despite the NRA’s objections.

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Flawed at Every Level

The gun club made a blistering statement Tuesday night after the bill text was revealed, calling it “flawed at every level.”

The NRA said it would “open the door to unwarranted burdens on law-abiding gun owners’ Second Amendment freedoms.”

The NRA is one of the most effective lobbying organizations on Capitol Hill. The group’s scoring system may be a political weapon for Republicans, who are more likely to get a better score.

It also puts the NRA in a similar position, opposing a law that Democrats and gun control supporters have hailed as the largest gun safety reform in decades.

As momentum grows for the bill, which 14 Senate Republicans agreed to pass late Tuesday, many GOP advocates argue it supports the Second Amendment and is important to reducing gun violence in the nation.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who pushed to advance the bill the day before, said background checks and firearm safety are appropriate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who helped draft the measure, claimed it “robustly defends the Second Amendment.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected an NRA question during a news conference on Wednesday. McConnell is worried about school safety and mental health challenges raised by major shootings.

The plan introduced Tuesday would increase background check procedures for persons under 21 with minor criminal records. It would grant cash to urge states to implement red flag legislation or other anti-gun violence programs.

In addition to cracking down on straw purchases and illicit gun trafficking, the law funds community mental health clinics nationwide.

All of the GOP senators have at least an “A” grade from the NRA. Their comments come as legislators on both sides of the aisle work on a bipartisan gun package in the Senate.

Multiple Incidents

After a racist massacre in a mainly black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York last month, many Republicans resisted Democratic calls for gun control.

Members say informal talks between Democrats and Republicans about guns started in the upper chamber. Ten days later, a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas killed 19 students and two teachers, making the public want action even more.

Both parties insisted their colleagues were willing to compromise.

“This agreement appears tailored to satisfy strong Second Amendment champions like myself,” said Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), who backed moving the bill on Tuesday.

Young responded, “I don’t care,” when asked about the NRA’s opposition to the law.

Not all GOP members share these feelings, especially in the House, where the chamber’s top Republicans are urging delegates to vote against the package.

In a Wednesday afternoon memo to all House GOP offices, Republican leadership called the plan “wrong” and “insufficient.”

Heritage Action for America, Gun Owners of America, and the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action consider the bill a significant vote, which will affect how they assess legislators in the future.