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Texas gun attack prompts call for action in U.S. Senate

Mass murder of Texas children prompts renewed calls for Senate Republicans to remove roadblocks to universal background checks.

MINNEAPOLIS — Hours after news broke that 19 children and two teachers had been gunned down inside a Uvalde, Texas elementary school Tuesday, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr lashed out at Republican senators for blocking H.R. 8.

Kerr was referring to House Resolution 8, a universal background check bill that passed the US House in March of 2021, but has yet to receive a debate in the US Senate.  Republicans have used Senate rules that would require 60 votes to bring it up for consideration in the chamber.

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"Fifty Republicans are blocking Democrats from even debating a proposal," US Sen. Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, told KARE.

"Nobody thinks that one piece of legislation is going to solve the epidemic of gun violence in this country. But to sit and say there is nothing we can do, after watching the murder of 19 children, babies, in Texas is unconscionable."

If HR 8 were to become law it would require private handgun purchases to go through a licensed dealer who would submit the buyer to a criminal background check, to see if the buyer is barred from possessing a firearm. The measure allows for a broad array of exceptions including giving or selling a firearm to relatives, or lending a firearm to a trusted person for target practice or hunting trips.

"I'm not here to say that is the only solution, or it would prevent what happened yesterday or the day before, or the day before that," DFL Rep. Dean Phillips told KARE.

"But damn it, we've got to try. And America wants it!"

Rep. Phillip's Tuesday Tweet suggesting the nation's founders wouldn't have imagined or permitted the types of semi-automatic rifles that were used by the 18-year-old Texas shooter and many others is mass killings.

When HR 8 passed the US House in March of 2021 the votes fell mostly along party lines. A total of 219 Democrats voting yes -- including all four Democrats in the Minnesota delegation.  The state's four GOP members at the time all voted against the bill.

Rep. Pete Stauber of Duluth, a former police officer, was among the Republicans who voted against HR 8. He has asserted that adding any red tape will only create barriers for responsible gun owners, ultimately slowing their access to guns they want.

"Defending my constituents' constitutional rights is something I will continue to do until my very last day in office," Rep. Stauber told colleagues during the floor debate.

Stauber's press release after the vote on HR 8 was headlined, "Stauber votes No on Pelosi's unconstitutional gun grab."

 Universal background checks is also stalled in Minnesota's divided legislature, with House Democrats calling it a common sense first step and Senate Republicans calling it an unnecessary delay for responsible gun owners.

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