On Wednesday, Texas Senator John Cornyn and five of his colleagues introduced the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts (RESPONSE) Act.
Prompted by the recent shootings in El Paso and Odessa, Cornyn said, “I spent time with families and victims in El Paso and Midland-Odessa following those tragedies and pledged to work with my Senate colleagues on real solutions.”
The bill contends to improve three aspects of safety: providing law enforcement with new tools, improving mental health resource access, and strengthening school safety.
Neither the El Paso nor Odessa shootings occurred at a school.
Some more in-depth features of the bill include specifying that internet service providers (ISPs) can and should share information with law enforcement regarding mass shootings or talk thereof; creating federal, state, and local task forces that investigate and prosecute unlicensed firearm dealers; accelerating death penalty proceedings in international or domestic terrorism cases by limiting appeals; boosting mental health funding within the criminal justice system; and expanding active shooter trainings for schools.
This legislation comes on the heels of recent national discussions over so-called red flag laws.
Among Texas Republicans, there is not much appetite for adopting an approach some consider to be an easy avenue of abuse.
Instead, some state officials like Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have endorsed enhanced background checks on what has been deemed “stranger-to-stranger” private sales. In mid-September, however, the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) condemned both red flag laws and enhanced background checks on the grounds that such approaches would violate Texans’ constitutional rights on due process.
Cornyn’s legislation would implement neither red flag laws nor enhanced background checks.
Chris McNutt, executive director of Texas Gun Rights, told The Texan, “Cornyn’s bill is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to placate the anti-gun Left and continue the demonization of gun owners.”
McNutt then posited, “When will Cornyn and other Republicans in the Senate stop kowtowing to left-wing attacks on law-abiding gun owners and start fighting to restore our Second Amendment rights?”
Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party, said in an emailed statement, “After taking over $210,000 from the gun lobby, refusing to denounce gun violence and white supremacy in the direct aftermath of the El Paso shooting, and taking money from the NRA directly between the El Paso and Midland-Odessa tragedies, it’s no surprise that John Cornyn would introduce a bill that doesn’t include expanding background checks or reducing the amount of weapons of war on our streets.”
“Texans deserve real solutions to solve our gun violence epidemic — not half measures that are meant purely to score political points,” Rahman concluded.
Other sponsors of the bill are Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tim Scott (R-SC). Three of whom — McSally, Tillis, and Ernst — are considered increasingly vulnerable in next year’s election.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.