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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Cornyn on Gun Violence  CSPAN  June 7, 2022 9:29am-9:46am EDT

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[cheers and applause] [inaudible conversations] >> after months of closed door investigations, the house january 6th committee is set to go public. tune in as committee members question key witnesses about what transpired and why during the assault on the u.s. capitol. watch our live coverage beginning at thursday 8 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span now, our mobile video app or anytime online at c-span, your unfiltered view of government. texas senator john cornyn is the lead republican for negotiations with democrats over potential gun legislation. he spoke from the senate floor about the status of the talks
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and how best to reach a solution that both sides can agree on. >> madam president, like so many people in texas and across the country, i can't stop thinking about the 19 children and the two teachers who lost their lives in uvalde, texas. over the last several days, 21 families have started burying their loved ones. this tight knit community is 15,000 people 60 miles from the u.s.-mexico border is grieving the loss of classmates, playmates, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and fellow church members. as grief turns to anger, and anger turns to action, everyone is asking the question, the logical question, how do we stop these sort of things from
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happening again? well, i think that's the right question. that's the question that he is been on my mind and dominating conversations with my colleagues the last couple of weeks. now, this is a big diverse country. there are a lot of differences, regionally, culturally and the like and each of us have ideas about what would work best, but that's the genius of our federal system. when louis brandeis called democracy, one size fits all is not necessarily the right solution. those of us who work here in the senate knows, it's not just about our goals, our ideals, it's about what was once called the art of the possible.
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perfect bills, bills exist only in our imagination. and we have to be realistic about what can pass both chambers of congress and get the president's signature. and we know it's not easy by design. the founding fathers had this idea that if they made it hard to pass legislation, if they forced us to build consensus that we wouldn't pass a lot of laws that would limit individual freedom and liberty, that it would only be whether it was a true national consensus that we could get those laws passed. over the last week and a half, i've been talking particularly with senator murphy, senator tillison or cinema, but literally about everybody i could reach on the phone or get through text message to see if
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there's some package of mental health and safety legislation that addresses some of the factors that might have prevented the recent shooting in uvalde and elsewhere. i want to be clear though, we're not talking about restricting the rights of current law abiding gun owners tore citizens. this is a constitutional right, as much as that may go against the grain of some of our colleagues who would like to see us do things to restrict the rights of american citizens under the second amendment. the right to keep and bear arms is a right by the constitution itself. and the vast majority of the republican conference certainly feels the same way. what i'm interested in is keeping guns out of the hands of those who by current law are not supposed to have them. people with mental health
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problems. people with-- who have criminal records. again, this is about the art of the possible. and in order to deliver results, we have to build consensus and the best way to do that is through targeted reforms. we've actually had success in doing this before on november the 5th, 2017, a tight knit community in texas called southerland springs was the target of a shooting. a gunman opened fire at a small baptist church killing 26 people. we quickly learned that the shooter had a long and disturbing record of violence, school suspensions, comments about wanting to kill his superiors in the military, animal abuse and those closest to them.
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he fractured the skull of his stepson in a fit of anger. and he even spent time in military prison. yet, under existing -- under the existing national criminal background system, the air force had not uploaded that information. under existing federal law, the shooter was prohibited from ever purchasing or possessing a firearm. so how did he get his hands on a semi automatic weapon he used to take 26 innocent lives? well, it was because of a broken system. he was able to purchase four firearms because the information about his criminal history had never been uploaded into the national instant criminal background check system known as the nix --
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nic system. and how do we do this, get the system improved for existing qualifications to purchase firearms. senator murphy and i introduced the fix nic act to make sure that they upload these on a timely basis. that bill at the time it became law had more than 75 bipartisan co-sponsors and signed into law in 2018. here is what happened next. in the first three year since that became law 11 1/2 million additional records have been uploaded into the three national data bases. 11.5 million additional records. the number of records in one of those data bases increased by
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more than 30%. i believe the reason we were able to succeed and with the fixed legislation, it addressed a glaring problem without jeopardizing the rights of law abiding citizens under the second amendment. i mentioned that the bill had more than 70 co-sponsors and i'm reminded that it had 77 bipartisan co-sponsors and that's how we passed the first major reform to the background check system in 25 years. and my hope is that we can take the same approach to build consensus by targeting the problem with the targeted solution. this one is actually harder because in uvalde, there were so many multiple points of failure, not just one, multiple points of failure.
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but it's one obvious glaring issue is the lack of mental health intervention. according to the reports we've seen, the shooter was isolated. he was bullied. he harmed himself. he self-mutilated. he had a history of fighting and threatening students and abusing animals. these are textbook size compounded with a profile that we've seen too often if someone who could pose not only a threat to himself, but to others as well. but these signs were ignored and we saw the tragic consequences. i don't think it's breaking news to say that there's a mental health crisis among america's children and we can't ignore the devastating impact
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that the pandemic had on a lot of our young people. and a recent survey conducted by the new york times, 94% of school counselors said their students were showing more signs of anxiety and depression than before the pandemic. 88% said students were having more trouble regulating their emotions and almost three quarters said they were having difficulty solving conflicts with their friends. one counselor said kids are more impulsive, they're less controlled and struggle with emotional regulation. i believe we need to take this opportunity to support our children who struggle with emotional or mental health problems and that's something that i believe will bring us together and all 100 senators
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can agree on. another big issue is school safety. this shooter should never have been able to gain access to robb elementary school that day. again, the circumstances of how he gained that access are still under investigation. initial reports indicated the door had been propped open. now the police say the door had been closed, but it did not automatically lock like it was supposed to. if our schools need more resources to harden their infrastructure and to evaluate their physical security measures and make necessary improvements, that's something we can agree on, it's something that we need to do. no one should be able to walk through the door of a school and access a classroom so easily. you can't get into an airport very easily. we know how to do this.
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improving school safety also means reviewing current protocol, developing best practices and maybe adding or expanding the number of school resource officers. these are common sense ways to save lives and we need to provide schools with the resources to protect our students and our teachers. i'm a proud supporter of the second amendment. period. we also recognized though, that there are people who are prohibited by current law from purchasing guns, like the shooter in southerland springs because of criminal records or mental illness. we're discussing possible additional reforms to keep guns out of the hand of people who are not legally allowed to purchase or possess them in the first place. if we reach an agreement law
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abiding gun owners will not be impacted at all. our conversations are ongoing and indeed, all 100 senators will be part of that conversation, but these are the broad parameters of the things that i'm interested in addressing. we're not talking about banning a category of weapons across the board, a ban for certain high capacity magazines or changing the background check system by adding additional disqualifying items. if we're actually serious about finding common ground and building consensus, those sorts of things will stand no chance of passing the senate. instead, we're talking about common sense targeted reforms that are responsive to uvalde and elsewhere and i believe will save lives. strengthening mental health, bolstering school security. keeping guns out of the hand of
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people who are already legally prohibited from having them. i think a lot of our colleagues could get behind those provisions like they did with the fix nic bill. >> following sutherland springs we came up with a targeted bill to address circumstances. i'm hoping we can do so again. i will not settle on inadequate or harmful legislation for the sake of doing something. that's not productive for anyone. that's one of the things i hear the most, do something. we can agree something needs to be done, but what that something is is much harder to achieve. it's a targeted reforms, i think, is the way to get to where we need to go. i understand the desire for quick action, but i hope the democratic leader will allow bipartisan discussions to
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continue and then conclude before he pulls the plug and show boats on something he knows can't pass. he threatened to do it, but i don't believe that we ought to try to meet artificial deadlines. we know how to do this, i think giving the senate the next week or so to try to meet that consensus is imminently reasonable. i don't believe the senate will be voting this week good consensus legislation takes time. so i hope that senator schumer will let his work, there's no reason to vote on a doomed partisan bill like the who us is expected to vote on this week. my goal is to achieve a result and the only way we can do that, the only way we can get a bill that will pass both chambers and earn the
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president's signature is by taking the time and reaching that consensus. right now, there's not a bill out there that stands a chance of succeeding in the coming days, but my hope is that will change by allowing the senate to do the work we know how to do. come on with a bipartisan bill that commands the support of 60-plus members of the senate and something we can send to the president for his signature. madam president, 23 years ago, after the massacre at columbine high school left 12 students and a teacher dead, the gun lobby and allies insisted, quote, now is not the time to talk about gun laws. in shooting after shooting since, as america has been stunned and grieving and burying its children, the gun lobby has demanded that we not politicize the issue of gun violence. ey


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