Murphy, top Dem negotiator in Senate gun violence talks, says no age increase on AR-15-style rifles

The Connecticut lawmaker said negotiations have advanced beyond expectations

Updated: June 10, 2022 - 3:04pm

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Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a top Democrat negotiator in the bipartisan Senate effort to pass gun-control legislation after two recent mass shootings, says raising the federal age to 21 to buy AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles is now off the table.

Murphy, in whose state 28 people were killed in 2012 in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, made the statement Thursday on CNN.  

He said the proposed change was dropped as part of negotiations to get enough Republican senators to vote in favor of other changes. Any such change would need the support of at least 10 Senate Republicans to overcome a 60-vote procedural hurdle in the 100-member chamber.

The compromise, Murphy said, would be adding "additional scrutiny" to 18- to 21-year-olds trying to buy a weapon like the AR-15, though he didn't specify whether a waiting period would replace raising the age, according to Business Insider

"I think we continue to try to find a path to 60 votes that includes some provision that recognizes these 18- to 21-year-olds tend to be the mass shooters, and that many times, they have juvenile criminal records or past histories of mental health that should prohibit them from buying a weapon," Murphy reportedly told CNN. 

He also said he thinks there is some Republican support for raising the age but not enough to meet the 60-vote threshold to clear the filibuster.

Still, he expressed optimism, saying negotiations have advanced beyond expectations, amid Congress’ inability for roughly the past 30 years to pass legislation related to gun violence. 

The senator also said a federal red-flag law won't be in the package. But there will instead be "incentives" for states to pass one or strengthen their existing versions. Such laws allow police, teachers and family members to petition a court to remove weapons from gun owners deemed a danger to themselves or others.

"I think that we can put together a package that will get more than 10 Republican votes, and the reason for that is the demand from their constituents," Murphy also said. "I've never been part of a negotiation that was this serious."

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