Senator Cornyn lays out details for his new bill to combat gun violence


AUSTIN (KXAN) — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn introduced a new bill on the floor of the Senate that he says will reduce mass violence and make communities safer. Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger says the legislation doesn’t do enough to stop gun violence.

Cornyn calls this bill the “Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts,” or the RESPONSE Act.

The introduction of the bill comes two months after two separate mass shootings in Texas took the lives of 29 people.

In a recent press release, Cornyn lays out four points that make up the RESPONSE Act:

1) First, is action against unlicensed firearms dealers that allow people buying guns to skirt background checks. He proposes creating a nationwide task force to investigate and prosecute individuals illegally selling firearms and those trying to avoid background checks.

The Midland-Odessa shooter failed a background check when he attempted to buy a firearm from a licensed dealer, but was still able to purchase his weapon from someone who appears to have been manufacturing and selling guns who never registered as a firearms dealer. By not registering, he was able to skirt the background check requirement and sell a weapon to the shooter.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

2) Second, Cornyn says the RESPONSE Act will improve the quality and availability of mental health care. The goal is to enhance Assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs which are designed to help families stay in their community when seeking treatment for loved ones with mental illness rather than turning to an institution. He also hopes to expand mental health crisis intervention teams and strengthen cooperation between mental health professionals and law enforcement.

“We must do more to identify and support vulnerable individuals who could pose a danger to themselves or others. We know the majority of gun deaths are suicides, and while mental illness is not the prevailing cause of mass violence, enhanced mental health resources are critical to saving lives.”

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

3) Third, the bill takes steps to increase student safety in schools. Cornyn says the RESPONSE Act will help schools promote best practices and implement an internet safety policy to better identify and assess students with potentially violent behavior.

“I’ve heard from countless parents who are rightfully concerned about sending their children to school amid these attacks. That should never happen.”

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

4) Lastly, Senator Cornyn said it was vital for law enforcement to have better access to information about potential threats. He specifically mentioned the importance of agencies being able to assess threats made online. He said the RESPONSE Act was designed to widen the scope of information allowed to be shared with law enforcement.

“Because so often these shooters advertise on social media, or cry out for attention to law enforcement or other people ahead of time, this legislation includes provisions to ensure law enforcement can receive timely information about potential threats made online.”

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

His opponent’s response to RESPONSE

On Wednesday the Democratic challenger to Cornyn’s seat, MJ Hegar, issued a response to the Republican Senator’s proposed bill. She criticized is as a “cover your a–” bill. Hegar claims the RESPONSE Act fails to include expanded background checks which is what she says is the most important solution to gun violence.

“How can Senator Cornyn justify introducing a bill on mass violence that doesn’t include expanded background checks when the vast majority of Texans and gun owners believe they are needed?”

Democratic candidate for Senate MJ Hegar

In her statement, Hegar accused Cornyn of receiving $1,000 for his campaign from the NRA only two weeks after the El Paso shooting. She also questioned Cornyn’s credibility, stating the Senator claimed he was in favor of a ban on high-capacity magazines but did not include it in his bill.

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