Sen. John Cornyn’s Gun Violence Plan Doesn’t Have Much to Do With Guns

Texas Sen. John Cornyn speaks at CPAC in 2014.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn speaks at CPAC in 2014.
Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons
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In the midst of what was a busy Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn joined his fellow Texas politicians, rolling out his own plan — called the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts (RESPONSE) Act — to stop the mass shootings that have plagued Texas in 2019 and the United States for decades.

Cornyn's plan looks a whole lot like what you'd expect from a senator who's received plenty of campaign cash from the gun lobby. It's heavy on law enforcement, talks tough about mental health reform and promises to help turn schools into fortresses, but it does little to address the proliferation of guns themselves.

“I spent time with families and victims in El Paso and Midland-Odessa following those tragedies and pledged to work with my Senate colleagues on real solutions,” Cornyn said. “Congress passed my Fix NICS Act after the shooting in Sutherland Springs, but more needs to be done. I urge my colleagues to come together once again to pass the RESPONSE Act to help prevent mass shootings and put a stop to this senseless loss of life.”

The Fix NICS Act established penalties for law enforcement agencies that don't turn over required information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The RESPONSE Act promises to encourage internet service providers to turn over information about potential mass shootings to law enforcement, create task forces to investigate illegal gun dealers and expedite the process by which mass shooters are put to death after their murders, according to Cornyn's office.

The bill also includes provisions that would improve access to mental health treatment for individuals involved with the criminal justice system, attempt to expand the country's overall mental health workforce and increase access for schools that want to put their students through active-shooter training.

Schools would also receive incentives if they "enforce internet safety policies that detect online activities of minors who are at imminent risk of committing self-harm or extreme violence against others in order to provide students with the services they need and prevent possible violence."

Cornyn's bill does not, as opponents were quick to point out, say anything about limiting access to specific weapons or requiring universal background checks.

"After taking over $210,000 from the gun lobby, refusing to denounce gun violence and white supremacy in the direct aftermath of the El Paso shooting, and taking money from the NRA directly between the El Paso and Midland-Odessa tragedies, it's no surprise that John Cornyn would introduce a bill that doesn't include expanding background checks or reducing the amount of weapons of war on our streets," said Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party. "Texans deserve real solutions to solve our gun violence epidemic — not half measures that are meant purely to score political points."

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