Sen. Chris Murphy Says Raising the Age to Buy AR-15s Is Off the Table

  • Sen. Chris Murphy provided an update on the gun-control negotiations he’s been leading.
  • Speaking on CNN Thursday morning, Murphy said he remains unusually confident in the talks.
  • As one of the compromises, raising the age to buy semiautomatic rifles is off the table, he said.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut confirmed to CNN on Thursday morning that raising the federal age to purchase AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles to 21 is off the table in Senate gun-control talks.

Murphy, the Democrat leading the negotiations in conjunction with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, framed the shift as one of the compromises that will be needed to get at least 10 Republican votes, given the obstacle of the filibuster.

The compromise, Murphy explained, would be adding “additional scrutiny” to 18- to 21-year-olds looking to buy a weapon like the AR-15, though he stopped short of specifying that some sort of waiting period would replace raising the age.

“I think we continue to try to find a path to 60 votes that includes some provision that recognizes these 18- to 21-year-olds tend to be the mass shooters, and that many times, they have juvenile criminal records or past histories of mental health that should prohibit them from buying a weapon,” Murphy said, adding he thinks there is some Republican support for raising the age, but not enough to meet the 60-vote threshold to clear the filibuster.

The senator also said a federal red-flag law won’t be in the package. Instead, there will be “incentives” for states to pass one or strengthen their existing versions, which allow police, teachers, and family members to petition a court to remove weapons from a gun owner deemed a violent threat.

Murphy added that a complication in the waiting period is how different states handle legal records for minors, with some states sealing juvenile records.

While Murphy repeatedly acknowledged that major legislation on gun violence has been stagnant in Congress for about 30 years, he added that he has been surprised by how far the negotiations have gotten. Murphy was also at the center of negotiations for a gun-control package following the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in his home state in 2012, which ultimately fell apart following a lack of GOP support.

“I think that we can put together a package that will get more than 10 Republican votes, and the reason for that is the demand from their constituents,” Murphy said. “I’ve never been part of a negotiation that was this serious.”

But the Connecticut senator hedged his optimism.

“I still think there are more paths to failure than there are to success,” Murphy said.