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McConnell's support for tougher gun laws reflects a changed political landscape

McConnell's support for tougher gun laws reflects a changed political landscape

A decade ago, when 20 children and six adults were killed at an elementary school in Connecticut, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell extended his thoughts

WASHINGTON — A decade ago, when 20 children and six adults were killed at an elementary school in Connecticut, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell extended his thoughts and prayers, mourning a tragedy he said “stands out in its awfulness” — and then used the filibuster to block a bipartisan bill to toughen gun laws.

But last month, after a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, murdered 19 elementary school children and two teachers, McConnell did something different: He said Congress should act, and gave Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, his blessing to cut a deal with Democrats on modestly stricter gun laws, which he endorsed on Tuesday.

McConnell’s shift reflects a new political paradigm as mass shootings become more frequent in the United States. Permissive gun laws have allowed easy access to AR-15-style rifles, including for dangerous people who aim to commit murder. The Kentucky Republican also has a political incentive: Winning back suburban voters, who support gun control but have drifted away from the GOP coalition and toward Democrats in recent elections.

For McConnell — a longstanding opponent of gun control, who has branded himself the "grim reaper" of progressive priorities — an openness to a gun bill also reflects his desire to show the Senate can work with the 60-vote filibuster rule intact. A GOP leadership aide familiar with his thinking said it'd prove the Senate is "not broken" and that "those who want to change the rules are wrong."

The final bill has yet to be written, but many senators in both parties sound optimistic, with the framework deal alone marking a sea change after nearly three decades of failure to address gun violence.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/mitch-mcconnells-support-tougher-gun-laws-reflects-changed-political-l-rcna33537


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