Murphy rules out assault weapons ban, new background checks in Senate plan

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Murphy, who is helping lead Senate talks on gun control, said lawmakers don’t plan to bring any bill to the floor that would ban assault weapons or include comprehensive background checks but are actively working on legislation that would include a range of other measures.

“We’re not going to put a piece of legislation on the table that’s going to ban assault weapons, or we’re not going to pass comprehensive background checks,” Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." “But right now, people in this country want us to make progress. They just don’t want the status quo to continue for another 30 years.”

Among the items currently on the table are investments in mental health care and school safety, red flag laws and changes to strengthen the background check system, said Murphy.

Lawmakers have been meeting regularly to try to hammer out a deal, and Murphy expressed optimism that the two parties could strike an accord.

“I’ve never been part of negotiations as serious as these,” Murphy said. “There are more Republicans at the table talking about changing our gun laws and investing in mental health than at any time since Sandy Hook.”

Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have been pushing for a ban on the sale of assault weapons along with universal background checks that would cover purchases at gun shows or online.

Those measures don’t have the support needed from Republicans, but Murphy said there are other areas that could gather enough bipartisan support.

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who is one of the nine negotiators working on the proposal, said he was also optimistic that Democrats and Republicans could come together on some measures aimed at curbing gun violence, which could include expanded background checks, red flag laws (which would allow a family member, a police officer or other authority to petition a court to seize the firearms from someone who poses a danger), and school safety and mental health provisions.

He said half the Republicans in the Senate could get on board with a final bill.

“It feels to me like we are closer than we’ve been since I’ve been in the Senate,” Toomey said on CBS' "Face the Nation."