Hoo boy: Cornyn bombarded with boos over Senate gun bill at Texas GOP convention

I wouldn’t call the reception he got at the end of his speech a “bombardment.” More like some light mortaring.


The beginning of his speech, though? That was the full “Russia in the Donbas” treatment.

“The video doesn’t do it justice. It was really bad,” someone who was there told Axios’s Jonathan Swan.

Is this game over for the Senate gun bill, which was already encountering “serious doubts”?

Maybe not. For one thing, Cornyn must have known what was coming when he decided to show up to a Texas Republican event in the middle of a gun-control negotiation. In fact, he’s apparently used to being booed at the convention. If boos were likely to change his mind, he would have quit the negotiations yesterday and arrived today as the uncompromising hero of gun owners everywhere.

He tried to reason with the crowd, explaining what is and isn’t in the bill:

“Democrats pushed for an assault weapons ban, I said no,” Cornyn said. “They tried to get a new three-week mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases, I said no. Universal background checks, magazine bans, licensing requirements, the list goes on and on and on. And I said no, no, 1,000 times no.”…

He also said, “I will not, under any circumstance, support new restrictions for law-abiding gun owners. That will always be my red line. And despite what some of you may have heard, the framework that we are working on is consistent with that red line.”


Cornyn has described the key planks of the Senate gun deal in terms of “crisis intervention” in contrast to gun control. Adding juvenile records to federal background checks, encouraging states to pass red-flag laws, providing money for mental-health care — all of that is aimed at keeping dangerous people from killing, not limiting the rights of the law-abiding to own guns.

It didn’t matter to the Texas GOP, though, which passed the following resolution last night:

Whereas those under 21 are most likely to be victims of violent crime and thus most likely to need to defend themselves.

Whereas “red flag laws” violate one’s right to due process and are a pre-crime punishment of people not adjudicated guilty.

Whereas waiting periods on gun purchases harm those who need to acquire the means of self defense in emergencies such as riots.

Whereas all gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment and our God given rights.

We reject the so called “bipartisan gun agreement”, and we rebuke Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

All gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment? That’s not what the Scalia-led Supreme Court said in the Heller decision. Machine guns have been heavily restricted for generations. Believing all gun control is unconstitutional is something like a 15-20 percent proposition across the population, I’d guess.


Maybe the resolution will stiffen Cornyn’s spine, then, knowing that the people booing him are a small minority of voters. Remember too that he doesn’t face the Texas electorate again for another four years. He’ll have 5,000 more news cycles between now and then to atone for some very modest heresies on guns.

I do wonder, though, if he’s wrecking his prospects of succeeding McConnell as caucus leader with this endeavor. He’s already irritated conservatives in the Senate GOP by keeping them in the dark about the negotiations and agreeing to the Democrats’ accelerated timetable for passage. If he follows through on the deal and something passes, he may lose their support forever. (Notably, another contender to replace McConnell, John Barrasso, opposes the federal grant program to incentivize state red-flag laws.) On the other hand, if Cornyn backs out of the deal after the icy reception he got today, it’ll signal that he lacks the nerve needed to lead in rough political circumstances.

He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, at least among the right wing of the caucus. And that wing will grow bigger next year if figures like J.D. Vance and Herschel Walker prevail in their Senate races this fall.

Exit question: If they don’t pass something next week and the bill is stuck in limbo as the July 4 recess begins, is it dead? It’s hard to imagine Cornyn letting his political pain linger for weeks.


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