Bipartisan US lawmakers ramp up gun control talks amid crisis of violence – live

The US Senate is back in session today after its latest recess and there will be close attention on a bipartisan group of senators that is exuding increased confidence that a package of gun control measures can advance and make it into law.

Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy is fond of the word significant. Just days ago, less than a week after the mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 young children and two teachers, he talked of “an opportunity right now to pass something significant”.

Murphy yesterday added: “The possibility of success is better than ever before. But I think the consequences of failure for our entire democracy are more significant than ever.”

Chris Murphy joined from left by Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Senator Alex Padilla, D-Calif., in Washington two days after the mass shooting in Uvalde.Everytown and Moms Demand are two linked groups originally started by city mayors, backed by then-New York major Mike Bloomberg, campaigning for gun safety laws.
Chris Murphy in Washington DC. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Murphy believes measures passed in Florida following the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland could attract Republican support and provide a workable template for action in Congress.

Chris Murphy of Connecticut, speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, said he was optimistic that recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, could finally prompt enough bipartisan support for legislation that has previously proven elusive.

Florida, a Republican-controlled state, acted swiftly after the murders of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in February 2018, passing red flag laws and raising the age requirement for buying, but not owning, firearms from 18 to 21, among other steps. The Parkland gunman was 19.

In his address to the nation last week, Joe Biden called for a federal ban on semi-automatic weapons, and raising the age requirement if that couldn’t be done.

Murphy acknowledged the Florida actions and said “there is interest in taking a look at that age range, 18 to 21” during bipartisan discussions about possible legislation, led on the Republican side by Texas senator John Cornyn.

Read more here.

Former news executive advises January 6 committee on hearings

The January 6 committee has enlisted James Goldston, a former ABC News president who ran the shows “Nightline” and “Good Morning America,” to advise the committee on how to televise its hearings beginning Thursday, according to Axios.

Axios reports:

I’m told Goldston is busily producing Thursday’s 8 p.m. ET hearing as if it were a blockbuster investigative special.

He plans to make it raw enough so that skeptical journalists will find the material fresh, and chew over the disclosures in future coverage.

And he wants it to draw the eyeballs of Americans who haven’t followed the ins and outs of the Capitol riot probe.

Goldston will apparently have a lot of material to work with. The committee reportedly plans to show never-before-seen photos from inside the White House on January 6, and new security-camera footage from the Capitol, taken as the insurrection occurred, will also be shared.

The committee has already conducted more than 1,000 depositions and interviews as part of its investigation, and clips from those conversations are expected to be played during the hearing.

Meanwhile, Republicans are busy planning a counter-messaging program to challenge the committee’s findings. According to Axios, House Republican leaders and outside conservative groups will paint the panel as hyperpartisan to try to discredit their conclusions.

Joan E Greve

Joan E Greve

Joe Manchin, the centrist Democrat who could play a key role in reaching a Senate compromise on a gun-control bill, outlined what he would like to see in the legislation.

The West Virginia senator told CNN that he would support raising the minimum age required to purchase semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21. The gunman who carried out the Uvalde shooting was 18.

Manchin also indicated he would support some version of a red-flag provision, as long as the policy allowed for due process for those blocked from purchasing guns.

Manchin told me that a final deal should include two things: Raising the age to 21 for purchasing semi-automatic weapons and standards for state red flag laws. He’s also open to an assault weapons ban. On people needing AR-15s? “I never felt I needed something of that magnitude.” pic.twitter.com/GYUlx1Nhkp

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 6, 2022

“We know we can do something that would have prevented this — raising the age,” Manchin said of Uvalde. “And the second thing is that we know that the red-flag laws do work, as long as there’s due process.”

On the question of enacting a ban on assault weapons, Manchin said he would be open to the idea, but that proposal faces stiff opposition from Senate Republicans.

“I never thought I had a need for that type of high-capacity automatic weapon,” Manchin said. “I like to shoot. I like to go out and hunt. I like to go out sports shooting. I do all that. But I’ve never felt I needed something of that magnitude.”

While there were no major decisions made by the supreme court today, the justices did opt not to review legal sanctions against Republican Senate candidate Mark McCloskey and his wife Patricia, who pointed guns at protesters during racial justice protesters in Missouri two years ago.

In this June 28, 2020 file photo, Mark and Patricia McCloskey are shown outside their St. Louis mansion with guns after protesters walked onto their private street.
In this June 28, 2020 file photo, Mark and Patricia McCloskey are shown outside their St. Louis mansion with guns after protesters walked onto their private street. Photograph: Laurie Skrivan/AP

CNN reports that the McCloskeys, both attorneys, pled guilty to misdemeanors over the incident, which were later pardoned by Missouri’s governor. However the state’s supreme court later sanctioned them, calling their actions “moral turpitude.”

The McCloskeys contested the penalties, citing the constitution’s second amendment, but CNN reported the argument didn’t have much chance of success.

Mark McCloskey is a candidate in the Republican senate primary in Missouri to succeed Roy Blunt, who is retiring, but a SurveyUSA poll released last month did not find him among the race’s frontrunners.

Joan E Greve

Joan E Greve

As the Senate tries to find compromise on gun control, Joe Biden is using the presidential bully pulpit to urge Congress to take action to prevent more tragedies like Uvalde.

“After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done,” Biden said on Twitter. “This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something.”

Biden offered the same message to the nation last week, when he delivered a primetime address on the need to enact stricter gun laws.

He proposed expanding background checks and banning assault weapons. If Congress cannot approve an assault weapons ban, which seems unlikely given Republicans’ opposition to the idea, then the minimum age required to purchase those guns should be raised from 18 to 21, Biden said.

After Columbine,
after Sandy Hook,
after Charleston,
after Orlando,
after Las Vegas,
after Parkland,
nothing has been done.

This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something.

— President Biden (@POTUS) June 6, 2022

The House has already passed several gun-control bills, and Biden called on the Senate to act as well in the wake of the Uvalde massacre.

However, that will be difficult when the upper chamber is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and the filibuster rules requires 60 votes to advance most legislation.

“I support the bipartisan efforts that include a small group of Democrats and Republican senators trying to find a way,” Biden said last Thursday.

“But my God, the fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable. We can’t fail the American people again.”

This week will provide some key clues as to whether any gun-control bill can pass the Senate.

The Wall Street Journal has published a deep dive into the relationship between Chris Murphy and John Cornyn, the two senators tasked with finding a compromise on gun control in Congress, which focuses on their experiences with mass shootings in their states.

The experience of Murphy, a Democrat, stems from the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting which, like last month’s massacre in Uvalde, Texas, left dead scores of children in class. Republican Cornyn’s experience came in 2017 during a shooting at a Sutherland Springs, Texas church that killed 26 people, and again with the killings in Uvalde.

As the Journal reports:

“Both of us have gone through things and seen things that are pretty, pretty horrific,” said Mr. Murphy in an interview, pointing to the shootings in their states. “I don’t think there’s any way that that doesn’t propel you in some way, shape or form to go out, do something, to make sure that all of this stops.”

The two men, coming from parties with sharply different positions on the gun debate, are working to overcome decades of distrust and inaction on guns in a deeply polarized Congress, aiming to pull together an agreement as soon as this week. Many Democrats, worn down after repeated failures to advance new laws, have said they are willing to settle for even a small bipartisan deal. Some Republicans also are open to talks, emphasizing school security and mental illness but wary of any steps that could be cast as hurting gun rights.

Murphy and Cornyn worked together on legislation enacted in 2017 that improved background checks, though a compromise on tougher gun control measures has eluded Congress for years despite successive mass shootings.

A reminder of how perilous the issue can be came on Friday, when Republican New York congressman Chris Jacobs called off his reelection bid after he drew a fierce backlash for voicing support for gun control legislation.

Joan E Greve

Joan E Greve

The secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, has tested positive for Covid, making him the latest senior official in the Biden administration to contract the virus.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am experiencing mild symptoms,” Buttigieg said on Twitter. “I plan to work remotely while isolating according to CDC guidelines, and look forward to when I can safely return to the office and the road.”

I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am experiencing mild symptoms. I plan to work remotely while isolating according to CDC guidelines, and look forward to when I can safely return to the office and the road.

— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) June 6, 2022

Several of Joe Biden’s cabinet members have tested positive for Covid in recent weeks, as the US confronts another surge in cases.

The secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland, tested positive last week, and Vice-President Kamala Harris contracted the virus last month, as did secretary of state Antony Blinken.

Buttigieg, who ran for president in 2020 before endorsing Biden and later joining his cabinet, has been traveling across the country to tout the benefits of the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Chris Stein

Chris Stein

Among the cases the supreme court is expected to release its decision on this month is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen, which challenges a New York law limiting concealed handgun carrying in public.

Had the justice made their verdict public today, it would have come after a violent weekend across the country, in which CNN counted 10 mass shootings since Friday.

These include:

The New York case could be the supreme court’s first major ruling on gun rights in more than a decade. As my colleague Oliver Laughland reported last month, the expectation is for the court’s conservative majority to strike down a New York law limiting who can get a license to carry a concealed weapon, though how much effect it will have on gun rights nationwide will depend on how the decision is phrased:

Legal claims shed light on founder of faith group tied to Barrett

Stephanie Kirchgaessner

The founder of the People of Praise, a secretive charismatic Christian group that counts supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett as a member, was described in a sworn affidavit filed in the 1990s as exerting almost total control over one of the group’s female members, including making all decisions about her finances and dating relationships.

The court documents also described alleged instances of a sexualized atmosphere in the home of the founder, Kevin Ranaghan, and his wife, Dorothy Ranaghan.

The description of the Ranaghans and accusations involving their intimate behavior were contained in a 1993 proceeding in which a woman, Cynthia Carnick, said that she did not want her five minor children to have visitations with their father, John Roger Carnick, who was then a member of the People of Praise, in the Ranaghan household or in their presence, because she believed it was not in her children’s “best interest”.

Cynthia Carnick also described inappropriate incidents involving the couple and the Ranaghan children. The matter was eventually settled between the parties.

Read the Guardian’s full report:

No more opinions are due today from the US Supreme Court, with all the biggest decisions still awaited.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the court’s calendar and on the indispensable Scotusblog for upcoming dates and the rulings issued on those dates.

For anyone curious to know a bit more about how this works, the Scotusblog FAQ page is handy, here. The court doesn’t give lots of notice about which will be opinion days in June and, likely, edging into July with such a big caseload.

And the public isn’t told what opinions are coming down until they land. However, of course there was the early May bombshell leak of the draft opinion in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case out of Mississippi, which explicitly includes a request from the state authorities to the court to overturn the pivotal 1973 Roe v Wade decision that afforded the constitutional right to an abortion in the US.

The final opinion is awaited…

This blog is now handing over to the Guardian’s new US politics blogger Chris Stein, based in Washington, and our colleague there Joanie Greve, who was at the helm of the blog but in recent months took on her new role as one of our senior politics reporters.

They’ll take you through the rest of today’s politics news. For all the breaking news on UK politics today involving a no-confidence vote in prime minister Boris Johnson, please follow our London team here as they bring you the events as they happen there, in the UK politics live blog.

Here’s Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas again, this time putting his name to a decision in the case of Southwest Airlines v Saxon.

In an eight to zero opinion (Amy Coney Barrett was recused from this case), Thomas issued the decision that the court essentially said an airline worker is not required to go to arbitration over her pay dispute with Southwest and can fight her case in the courts.

The Supreme Court adopts a broad interpretation of an important exception in the Federal Arbitration Act. The upshot of the 8-0 ruling is that an airport worker (and others similarly situated) can bring a claim for overtime pay in court, rather than being forced into arbitration.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 6, 2022

The Bloomberg Law site notes that the case could have a wide impact on worker arbitration rights. It explained that Latrice Saxon:

Sued the airline in 2019, alleging it failed to pay her and hundreds of current and former ramp supervisors time-and-a-half earned for their overtime work. The Dallas-based carrier countered that its employee was contractually bound to bring the claim in arbitration, rather than in court. While a federal district judge agreed with the airline, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit did not. The supreme court took up the case.

The US supreme court has issued three opinions today, moments ago, although they are not the cases the nation is on the edge of its proverbial seat about – abortion and gun rights.

The court just ruled that the Florida authorities can recoup $300,000 in medical expenses out of a settlement paid in the case of Gianinna Gallardo, who suffered appalling injuries at 13, in 2008, when she was hit by a truck after getting off a school bus. A 7-2 majority, with the opinion written by Clarence Thomas and joined by liberal-leaning Elena Kagan, opined for the state over the Gallardo family.

A few minutes prior, the court ruled in a case, Siegel v Fitzgerald, about the constitutionality of increased US Trustee’s fees charged to companies in chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Details on the third ruling in a tick.

The Supreme Court strikes down Congress’ decision to increase bankruptcy fees in most states while leaving a different system in place in two states. SCOTUS unanimously holds that the two different fee systems violates the Constitution’s requirement of “uniform” bankruptcy laws.

— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 6, 2022

The US supreme court is about to issue ruling(s) on cases decided in the current term.

We’ll keep you up to date on what happens, when the opinion(s) are handed down at 10am ET.

As Scotusblog notes, there’s a lot for the bench to get to:

The four big cases we at the Guardian are watching most closely are an environmental case out of West Virginia, a gun rights case stemming from New York, an immigration case via Texas involving the US-Mexico border and the pivotal Mississippi abortion case that also includes the state authorities asking Scotus to overturn Roe v Wade.

The US Senate is back in session today after its latest recess and there will be close attention on a bipartisan group of senators that is exuding increased confidence that a package of gun control measures can advance and make it into law.

Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy is fond of the word significant. Just days ago, less than a week after the mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 young children and two teachers, he talked of “an opportunity right now to pass something significant”.

Murphy yesterday added: “The possibility of success is better than ever before. But I think the consequences of failure for our entire democracy are more significant than ever.”

Chris Murphy joined from left by Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Senator Alex Padilla, D-Calif., in Washington two days after the mass shooting in Uvalde.Everytown and Moms Demand are two linked groups originally started by city mayors, backed by then-New York major Mike Bloomberg, campaigning for gun safety laws.
Chris Murphy in Washington DC. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Murphy believes measures passed in Florida following the 2018 high school shooting in Parkland could attract Republican support and provide a workable template for action in Congress.

Chris Murphy of Connecticut, speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, said he was optimistic that recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, could finally prompt enough bipartisan support for legislation that has previously proven elusive.

Florida, a Republican-controlled state, acted swiftly after the murders of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in February 2018, passing red flag laws and raising the age requirement for buying, but not owning, firearms from 18 to 21, among other steps. The Parkland gunman was 19.

In his address to the nation last week, Joe Biden called for a federal ban on semi-automatic weapons, and raising the age requirement if that couldn’t be done.

Murphy acknowledged the Florida actions and said “there is interest in taking a look at that age range, 18 to 21” during bipartisan discussions about possible legislation, led on the Republican side by Texas senator John Cornyn.

Read more here.

Washington ramps up bipartisan gun safety talks amid crisis of violence

Good morning, US politics blog readers, it’s going to be an exceptionally busy, high-stakes week in Washington with Americans’ constitutional rights and democracy itself under the spotlight.

Here’s what’s on the agenda.

About The Author

James Kugmo