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As Uvalde survivor, victims’ parents testify on gun legislation, will Congress take action?

Uvalde courthouse.JPG
Patricia Lim
A community member writes on a cross placed outside the Uvalde Courthouse as a memorial for the 19 students and two faculty members killed in May's shooting.

The House passed a gun control measure on Wednesday – the same day as a congressional hearing on mass shootings – but it’s unlikely that legislation will make it out of the Senate.

Uvalde parents, children and a doctor – as well as people who lost loved ones in a mass shooting at a grocery store in a predominately Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y., 10 days before the Robb Elementary School shooting – shared emotional and, at times, graphic testimony with U.S. House lawmakers during a Wednesday hearing on recent mass shootings in the U.S.

On Wednesday night, the House also passed a gun control measure, but it’s unlikely that legislation will make it out of the Senate. That package of proposals includes raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy semiautomatic guns like an AR-15, as well as outlawing large capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and banning bump stocks, said Joseph Morton, a congressional reporter for The Dallas Morning News.

“It’s a whole kind of suite of gun control measures that will go over to the Senate, where the near-certain expectation is that it’s dead on arrival,” Morton said. “Instead, what the Senate is working on with a group of bipartisan folks – led by Chris Murphy from Connecticut on the Democrat side and John Cornyn from Texas on the Republican side – they are looking at a much more modest package of bills.”

Morton said the Senate measure is likely to contain some sort of boost to school security and some more resources for mental health.

“And on the gun control side, probably some tweaking to the background check system, potentially adding juvenile records, maybe adding some supports for states to do red flag laws that are designed to get guns out of the hands of people who are disturbed before they actually commit these terrible acts,” Morton said.

These debates are coming as prime-time, congressional hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection begin Thursday night. And there is fear among Democrats and gun control advocates these hearings could start to overshadow congressional response to the latest mass shootings in the U.S.

“We have the January 6th Commission kicking off. We are likely to get an abortion ruling from the Supreme Court in the near future. You can go down a long list of things we expect to happen in June that’s going to start pushing these shootings off the front pages and out of the newscast. So I think Democrats feel like they’re kind of racing against the clock,” Morton said.