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Florida shooting sparks reactions from Republican senators on gun control

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After a 19-year-old man was accused of fatally shooting 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last week, all eyes turned to Republican lawmakers – many of whom have had support of pro-gun organizations over the years.

Thousands of students, parents and teachers attended rallies over the weekend in support of stronger gun control legislation. And many of them blamed politicians – particularly those who have accepted donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), a nonprofit that supports gun rights.

Here’s a look at what 15 Republican senators have said about gun control in the aftermath of the deadly shooting on Feb. 14.

John Boozman, Arkansas

When Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., was a student in Arkansas, he said it wasn’t uncommon for “young people to actually bring their rifles to school during deer season.” But, he told KARK-TV, “nobody at that time entertained the thought of doing such a horrendous thing” as shooting individuals in a school.

Boozman says the “heart of the problem” facing the U.S. is a mix of drugs, gangs, mental health and the “break-up of the family,” which, he argued, can be the catalyst behind these recent tragedies.

“Throwing money at the problem or passing a law that simply would not make any difference is not the answer – even though it might make us all feel better.”

– Sen. John Boozman

“My understanding is, if you look at all the instances like these that have happened in recent history, that all of the things that have been proposed in Congress to counter them would not have made any difference,” Boozman told KARK. “Throwing money at the problem or passing a law that simply would not make any difference is not the answer – even though it might make us all feel better.”

He said he wants to see the country be able to more easily identify “these young white males that are definitely mentally ill, very unstable,” and be able to “somehow restrain them.”

Susan Collins, Maine

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told the Bangor Daily News that she’s sponsored several bills in Congress that would prohibit people on a no-fly list from purchasing guns as well as strengthen background checks.

“What happened [in Florida] is not only so horrific a tragedy, but it also has happened far too many times in this country,” she said.

John Cornyn, Texas

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has spoken to President Trump about a bipartisan bill designed to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers, according to the White House.

The bill, which he introduced last year alongside Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., would penalize federal agencies that fail to provide the necessary records and reward states that comply with federal grant preferences and other incentives.

Ted Cruz, Texas

Appearing on Fox News, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, criticized Democrats for what he said was their attempt to “politicize” a tragedy – including by advocating to “take away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Cruz mentioned the mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November 2017 and said the survivors told him “gun control is not the answer.”

“The answer is to focus on criminals, to focus on violent criminals,” Cruz said.

The former presidential contender has also battled CNN in the wake of the shooting. The cable news network accused Cruz, along with other Republicans, of being “unwilling” to appear on CNN to talk about gun control.

Cruz pushed back on Twitter, saying he did a 15-minute interview with CNN “about proactive solutions to prevent gun violence,” but said the network “aired NONE of it.”

Joni Ernst, Iowa

After the shooting, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said there should be a balance between supporting existing gun laws and not restricting Second Amendment rights.

“While we must enforce current federal gun laws to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands, we can and must do so in a way that respects our Constitution,” Ernst told KCCI-TV.

“The root cause is not that we have the Second Amendment; it is that we’re not adequately addressing mental illness across the United States.”

– Sen. Joni Ernst

She also told reporters on a conference call that the problem isn’t guns, but societal issues that can be helped with better access to mental health services, the Des Moines Register reported.

“The root cause is not that we have the Second Amendment,” Ernst said. “It is that we’re not adequately addressing mental illness across the United States. We need to focus on that, and we need to focus on substance abuse.”

Cory Gardner, Colorado

Like other Republicans, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., has said the school shooting should serve as an example for lawmakers to better improve mental health initiatives.

“Now is the time to have a discussion about what we can do to break down the barriers that prevent help going to people who need it – whether that’s a substance abuse issue or whether that’s a mental health concern,” Gardner said, according to the Denver Post.

Gardner called for a probe into whether authorities took earlier complaints about the alleged gunman seriously enough.  

“We need to understand why those reports weren’t investigated or further action wasn’t taken,” he said.

Chuck Grassley, Iowa

After the shooting, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told fellow lawmakers he planned to sit down with some of them to discuss gun legislation, CBS News reported.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman responded to a request from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and said he would to talk to her and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Both senators have introduced legislation pertaining to gun control. Feinstein, in particular, is seeking to raise the minimum age requirement to purchase rifles.

Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., accused gun control advocates of attempting to “take a tragedy and try to capitalize on it.”

“Every time there’s an incident, people somehow think if you take away guns from law-abiding citizens, the criminal element will give up their guns voluntarily,” Inhofe told WJLA-TV. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

John Kennedy, Louisiana

According to Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., the “first way to stop a shooter is to shoot back.”

Kennedy is advocating for active shooter drills and trained security personnel on hand in schools. He told WVUE-TV he’s not going to support “more gun control.”

“I don’t think gun control keeps guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have guns,” Kennedy said. “I think criminals and those who are mentally ill obey gun laws pretty much like politicians keep promises.”

“I think our problem is not gun control; it’s idiot control,” he quipped.

James Lankford, Oklahoma

While he’s not on board with a ban of so-called assault weapons, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., called for stronger background checks in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

“The problem is not owning an AR-15, it’s the person who owns it,” Lankford told NBC News, adding that he doesn’t believe the AR-15 should be more difficult to buy.

He pushed for reform to strengthen background checks on individuals purchasing firearms, especially in some “rural departments or federal entities.”

Lankford strongly advocated for the “Fix NICS Act,” from Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn. The bill “penalizes federal agencies who fail to properly report relevant records and incentivizes states to improve their overall reporting,” Cornyn described in a post on his website.

Lisa Murkowski, Alaska

Like some of her Republican colleagues, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, focused on mental health efforts in the wake of the shooting.

“I think we all know that there is no one single initiative that is going to be able to stop what happened in Florida or what has happened in — unfortunately — far too many other areas, where, again, you think there’s a level of safety and security and there’s not,” Murkowski told Vox.

She added that Alaska has a “very serious deficiency when it comes to mental health providers.”

Mike Rounds, South Dakota

In an interview with NPR, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., encouraged people not to get too caught up in the type of firearm used in the school shooting.

“You can call any type of a series of different types of guns assault weapon, and suddenly then they become a demonized item,” Rounds said. “And then suddenly it sounds like we’ve done something. The reality is there’s a whole lot of different types of weapons that can be utilized whether you’re talking about a handgun, or you’re talking about a shotgun, or you’re talking about a rifle…”

Rounds said Congress “could do a better job,” but added that he supports the Second Amendment.

“All we have to do is take away one particular type of weapon – that suddenly becomes the discussion point. And suddenly we all feel good about having done something. And in reality, we haven’t done something,” he said.

Marco Rubio, Florida

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has borne the brunt of criticism in the wake of the school shooting in his state, given his positions on gun control. He said the issue is “complicated,” but “not unsolvable.”

“If a bill makes things better, we should vote for it and keep working,” Rubio told WFOR-TV. “But we’re in an era now where everybody wants to get 100 percent of what they want or they’ll just walk away.”

“There’s this false narrative out there that says just because you want to deal with mental illness means you don’t want to deal with the gun part.”

– Sen. Marco Rubio

Rubio said it should have been “impossible” for the alleged gunman in Parkland to have been able to obtain the firearm he did, though he added that he respects law-abiding citizens who want to own a weapon like an AR-15 for sport or protection.

“There’s this false narrative out there that says just because you want to deal with mental illness means you don’t want to deal with the gun part. I’m willing to deal with the gun part. I don’t think people like this guy or people like him should be able to have any gun, not an AR-15, any gun. We need to create a system that keeps them from getting it,” Rubio said.

Rubio also embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow courts to temporarily prevent people from having guns if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

Tim Scott, South Carolina

After the deadly Florida shooting, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said the “system in place simply was not followed.”

“We all say, ‘If you see something, say something,’” Scott told CBS News. “In [the] Parkland community, we saw people reporting there were 20 calls to the sheriff’s department, they responded. The FBI received a legitimate, credible tip and it was not followed up upon.”

Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania

On social media, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., assured the public of his commitment to “improving our federal background check system.”

“I believe gun safety legislation should focus on keeping guns away from those who shouldn’t have them – criminals, the dangerously mentally ill and terrorists,” Toomey said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.



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'Brexit cost a lot of jobs!' Ken Livingstone slams Farage in big debate 'Still a remoaner'

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FORMER London Mayer Ken Livingston insisted Brexit “has cost jobs” as he squabbled with Nigel Farage over Brexit before demanding the British government invest in jobs for British people.

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In Ohio GOP race, local and national politics square off

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WASHINGTON — Is all politics now national?

Or is some of it still local when it comes to congressional races?

We’ll get an answer from today’s GOP special primary in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District to replace Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, who resigned his seat back in April to run Ohio’s chamber of commerce.

Donald Trump has definitely helped nationalize the contest by endorsing coal lobbyist Mike Carey, and a pro-Trump Super PAC is airing this ad for him: “This August 3rd, vote for the only Trump-endorsed, America-First conservative — Mike Carey for Congress.”

On the other hand, Stivers has endorsed his hand-picked successor, state Rep. Jeff LaRe, and the ex-congressman has been running this TV ad: “I’m proud to support Jeff LaRe for Congress. Jeff LaRe is a former law enforcement officer and a strong conservative leader who has fought to make our communities safer.”

So much attention on this Ohio-15 special has been on whether a Trump-backed candidate could lose another race — after last week’s defeat of the Trump-endorsed Susan Wright in Texas.

But is a more important issue here whether local politics can still trump national politics?

After all, the candidate who defeated Wright down in Texas — Jake Ellzey — was a state representative with endorsements from Rick Perry, Joe Barton and Dan Crenshaw.

Now today’s other Ohio special primary election — in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District between Nina Turner and Shontel Brown — is fully nationalized, with it being the latest battle in the Bernie-Dem Establishment War.

But also pay attention to Ohio-15 to see if local politics and local endorsements still matter.

Looking at the ad spending in Ohio

Today’s high-profile special primary elections have made for busy airwaves outside of Cleveland and Columbus.

In the Dems’ 11th District contest, Turner and Brown (plus their outside backers) have gone virtually punch-for-punch in the ad war. Turner has spent $2.3 million on TV, radio and digital advertising through Tuesday, per AdImpact, with her aligned Democratic Action PAC adding another $250,000. That’s matched by the Brown campaign’s $1.3 million on ads, plus an additional $1.1 million chipped in by the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC.

Things are even more crowded among the Republicans in the 15th District contest. The top spenders are businessman Tom Hwang, a self-funder running as an outsider, and the Protect Freedom PAC, which is backing Ron Hood, the state representative backed by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul. Both have spent just over $480,000 on advertisements.

Former Rep. Steve Stivers, who has endorsed Jeff LaRe, has actually spent more on ads than any other candidate besides Hwang, with $344,000. Then the Trump-aligned Make America Great Again PAC has spent $305,000 in support of the candidate Trump has endorsed, lobbyist Mike Carey, with Carey’s campaign spending another $265,000. State Sen. Bob Peterson has spent $265,000, the anti-Carey Conservative Outsider PAC has spent another $241,000, LaRe’s campaign has spent $180,000, and former Columbus NAACP President Ruth Edmonds has spent $107,000.

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Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

35: The average number of new, daily pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations over the last week in Florida.

11 hours: How long New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced questions for from the state’s Attorney General’s office during a harassment probe.

110 million: The amount of Covid vaccines the U.S. government has shipped to 65 other countries, per the Wall Street Journal.

35,202,585: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 168,435 more than yesterday morning.)

617,258: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News.

346,924,345: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 467,676 since yesterday morning.)

49.7 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

60.6 percent: The share of all American adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

70 percent: The share of all American adults at least 18 years of age who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, per the CDC, a mark which President Biden had hoped America would hit by the July 4 holiday.

Talking policy with Benjy: Inflated fears of inflation?

A $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal. A $3.5 trillion budget plan. And Republicans are confident they have their top counterargument already lined up: It will all raise prices.

Inflation, after all, is up significantly in 2021. The Fed believes it’s mostly temporary, caused by pandemic-specific disruptions like a computer chip shortage that’s sending car prices soaring. So far, the markets mostly agree with them, but critics argue the economy is overheating from too much stimulus spending.

But there are several important factors that could mitigate inflation risk from the $4 trillion in proposed new spending, NBC’s Benjy Sarlin reports.

First of all, it’s going to be spent much more slowly than the Covid relief bills, over a period of 10 years rather than as immediate relief. Second, unlike Covid spending, Democrats plan to offset the cost by raising taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals. Third, spending on items like better roads, cheaper power and easier commutes could make the economy more productive and thus better able to handle increased demand.

“If the bill is fully paid for, then to a first approximation it would have no impact on inflation,” Jason Furman, a top economic adviser in the Obama administration, told NBC News. “Moreover, if it expanded supply (through infrastructure, more parents working because of childcare, etc.) it might put some downward pressure on inflation.”

Furman is more worried than many of his peers about rising prices, but says little of that has to do with the spending plans, which he calls a “red herring” in the inflation debate that could be checked with higher interest rates if needed

Inflation hawks worry the spending offsets won’t materialize and that the boost to productivity won’t be enough to justify the total spending. The bipartisan infrastructure plan relies on some shaky budget math and the Democratic plan might make its numbers work by funding some features, like the child tax credit, for shorter lengths with the expectation they’ll be extended. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates this would boost the cost from $3.5 trillion to over $5 trillion, which may or may not be offset.

“There is a high probability that there won’t be enough taxes collected,” Sung Won Sohn, an economist at Loyola Marymount University, said. “Historically, every president has promised to pay for tax cuts or spending increases, but that never happened.”

The biggest fear is that if inflation goes on too long, people will begin to expect more inflation, creating a kind of self-perpetuating cycle in which businesses raise prices and workers keep bargaining for higher wages in order to get ahead of it.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

It’s been two years since the massacre in El Paso.

Some public health experts are questioning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s analysis that led to new masking guidelines.

The GOP chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors rejected a new subpoena, calling the GOP-led “election audit” an ‘adventure in never-never land.’

The National Labor Relations Board has determined that Amazon violated labor law after workers at its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse tried to join a union, according to the union.

The Associated Press reports that unaccompanied minors stopped at the U.S-Mexico border by immigration officials hit an all-time high in July.

Axios reports that President Biden and his chief of staff don’t believe pressuring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire would be productive.

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EU power grab: Chilling analysis show how bloc dominates lives of its citizens

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THE European Union is now a “powerful beast” which dominates all aspects of the lives of the 400 million people who live within its member states, a sobering new analysis has shown.

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