McConnell signals new openness to gun reform in radio interview

Protesters turn up heat on McConnell in downtown Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Facing mounting pressure over an unwillingness to consider new gun-control legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled a willingness to take a new direction.

McConnell told WHAS Radio host Terry Meiners on Thursday that the Senate will take up the debate when it convenes next month, adding that background checks would be “front and center.” Asked why he won’t convene a special session before September, McConnell said he thought senators would be more interested in grandstanding.

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“If we did that, we’d just have people scoring points and nothing would happen,” McConnell said. “If we do it prematurely, it will just be another frustrating experience for all of us and for the public.”

Two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio left 31 people dead over the weekend, prompting an onslaught of criticism of McConnell from Democrats, on social media and even right in front of his Louisville home this week.

Red-flag legislation would help communities “do a better job of alerting people around us to folks who are inclined to commit these heinous acts of violence,” McConnell told Meiners.

Too, expanded background checks have been an even bigger talking point in the long-running debate over gun control. Coupled with a possible red-flag law, the measures appear to be McConnell’s best bets for reform.

“Those are two items that for sure will be front and center as we see what we can come together on and pass,” McConnell told Meiners.

“What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” he continued. “That’s unacceptable. What I want to see here is an outcome, not a bunch of partisan, back-and-forth shots across the bow.”

Sen. Tim Ryan, a Democratic presidential hopeful from Ohio, led a gun-control rally outside McConnell’s office. WAVE 3 News reporter Kaitlin Rust will have the latest on that on WAVE 3 News at 11 Thursday night.

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