- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2019

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz supported the push for stronger background check legislation after the recent string of deadly shootings over the summer, but warned that Democrats’ plans would lead to an erosion of the Second Amendment.

“We absolutely need to do more. We need to strengthen background checks,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’ve seen too damn many of these [shootings] in the state of Texas.”

Shootings in Odessa, Midland and El Paso, Texas, left 29 people dead over the August recess.

Democrats passed a partisan background checks bill earlier this year that would extend to private sales. It hasn’t made any headway in the Republican-controlled Senate despite the recent push by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Mr. Cruz slammed that particular option, warning that requiring background checks on private sales would pave the way for gun confiscation.

“The only way to enforce that is a federal gun registry and a gun registry is the step you need for gun confiscation,” he said. “The federal government should not be confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens.”

Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke went viral during this week’s debate for enthusiastically calling for a mandatory buyback plan for AK-style guns.

“Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, we are not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore!” he said.

He, along with Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, have voiced support for mandatory buybacks.

Despite the blowback from both sides of the aisle, Mr. O’Rourke doubled down on his position, saying fear of the NRA has paralyzed lawmakers in the Capitol.

“I think this just shows you how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C. are,” he said on “Meet the Press. “I refuse to even acknowledge the politics or the polling or the fear or the NRA. That has purchased the complicity and silence of members of Congress. And this weak response to a real tragedy in America, 40,000 gun deaths a year, we’ve got to do something about it.”

Mr. Cruz floated his 2013 bill with Sen. Chuck Grassley, which was reintroduced in May, as an alternative approach. The bill focuses on shoring up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System with stronger requirements for agencies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he’s waiting for President Trump to decide what options he’d support before taking anything up in his chamber.

According to several Republican lawmakers meeting with the president on the issue, Mr. Trump is supportive of background checks but hasn’t made a firm decision yet.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters at the GOP retreat in Baltimore this week that he expects that decision will be announced soon.

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