WASHINGTON — The back-to-back mass shootings in California have once again underscored a political reality on Capitol Hill: Even after a pair of massacres rocked the country, Congress is unlikely to muster a bipartisan consensus to pass further action. gun control. .
On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, as leading Democrats joined President Biden’s call for action, Republicans — including Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose state has seen the latest gun rampages — remained silent. The divergent reactions reflected the rift between the two sides on the issue, even after they came together last year to push through the first major gun control legislation in decades.
Negotiators viewed this modest measure, which was aimed at keeping guns out of the reach of dangerous people, as the most they could do to forge a bipartisan compromise on the issue. Now that it’s the law, the prospect of enacting other more aggressive measures like reinstating the assault weapons ban seems virtually impossible.
“It’s clear that the prevalence of guns in our country has made tragedies like this all too common,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat and Majority Leader, said Monday, reacting to the weekend’s shooting. -end in Monterey Park, California. ., where 11 people were killed in what police called the deadliest mass shooting in Los Angeles County history. “While the Senate passed bipartisan gun safety legislation last year, and that was a very welcome move, more needs to be done.”
Just hours after Mr. Schumer’s speech in the Senate, a gunman killed seven people at two locations in Half Moon Bay, California.
“No other nation fetishizes violence and weapons like we do,” said senator Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy said on Twitter. “No other nation cares so little about who owns the mass slaughter machinery.”
Mr. Biden said Tuesday afternoon that he was sending Vice President Kamala Harris to California and again expressed his support for a ban on assault rifles.
“Our hearts are with the people of California,” the president told reporters as he welcomed Democratic congressional leaders to the White House. “The vice president is going out. I’ve spoken with Gavin Newsom and Judy Chu and Anna Eshoo and Hilda Solis, and we’re working on a number of things that we can and will do.
He cited legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, to reimpose the ban on assault rifles, which expired nearly two decades ago.
“I’m asking all of you to send this to my office as quickly as possible,” Biden said, even though he knew the odds of him running past a Republican house were slim.
Democrats conceded they lacked the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster and pass a new ban. Even if they did, Mr. McCarthy is unlikely to raise such a measure for a vote in the House, where Republicans adamantly oppose an assault weapons ban or any measure seen as carrying violation of gun rights.
Last year, when Democrats still controlled both houses of Congress, McCarthy pushed his members to vote against bipartisan legislation that became law in June that improved background checks on potential gun buyers. firefighters between the ages of 18 and 21. for states to pass “red flag” laws that allow firearms to be temporarily confiscated from people deemed, by a judge, too dangerous to possess.
By passing this bill, the Senate broke nearly three decades of congressional paralysis over tougher national gun laws.
Even then, the legislation was seen not as the harbinger of a new era of bipartisan compromise on an intractable issue, but rather as a brief moment of bipartisanship that was hard to replicate. Most Republicans opposed the bill, and the majority of those who supported it were not eligible for re-election.
Those who did have been called “RINOs,” or Republicans in name only, by former President Donald J. Trump, who is running for re-election, and some of the more hardline members of the House Republican Conference. , which now holds the majority.
Pierre Boulanger contributed report.