U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said he was open to some discussions on ways to prevent shootings like red flag laws and expanded background checks in the wake of Tuesday's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, during a live video discussion on youth mental health hosted by the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Cassidy, who joined Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, said that federal red flag laws and an expansion of required background checks on firearm sales are is "certainly something to discuss," though he stopped short of endorsing specific measures.
"We have to do what is required that we can find 60 votes on to keep this from happening again," Cassidy said.
The shooting, which took place at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, left 19 children and two adults dead. Texas officials said the 18-year-old gunman was wearing body armor and fired hundreds of rounds in what was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Cassidy was quick to praise Murphy, who represents Connecticut and delivered an impassioned speech on the senate floor after the shooting Tuesday, for his work on gun control and youth mental health. The two were initially slated to speak with Washington Post Live about their bipartisan youth mental health bill, but the shooting dominated the early part of the conversation.
Cassidy did not express support for other potential gun control measures, such as bringing back the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban imposed under the Clinton Administration. Cassidy said he's seen research on the ban claiming that it had "no effect," but Murphy said he had a different take on the research.
A report from the U.S. Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice found that criminal use of assault weapons declined when the ban was put into effect, and that evidence suggested the ban contributed to a reduction in the gun murder rate and murders of police offers by criminals armed with assault weapons.
The study, authored in 1999 by researchers from the State Policy Center of The Urban Institute, also found that the ban did not lower the average number of victims per gun murder incident or multiple gunshot wound victims.
“Senator Cassidy will always be an advocate for law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights," Cassidy spokesperson Ty Bofferding said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "Cassidy is open to conversations about solutions that will actually work to prevent these kinds of mass shootings. Unfortunately, expanded background checks or red flag laws, as Democrats are proposing as a solution, would not have prevented the tragedy in Texas.”
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Murphy acknowledged that an assault weapons ban would not get the 60 votes needed to pass in the U.S. Senate, which is divided 50-50 by party.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Louisiana Republican senator says expanded gun background checks 'something to discuss'