President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats spent the hours after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school calling on Congress to revisit gun control solutions that have, for years, failed to attract bipartisan support.

“As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden said during a prime-time address Tuesday evening, responding to the massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Lawmakers wrestled throughout Wednesday with the prospect of advancing bipartisan negotiations over a gun safety bill, although the parameters of any legislation remained unclear.

Here is what lawmakers are likely to consider in the days ahead.


Known as red flag laws, these types of proposals would give law enforcement the power to confiscate guns from an individual whose associates or family members have flagged him or her as a danger. A court must agree that the individual presents a danger before the government can confiscate the firearms, using what’s known as an extreme risk protection order, and the suspension of an individual’s gun rights is typically temporary.

Republicans have in the past expressed concerns that red flag laws could be abused to take firearms away from law-abiding gun owners. Proponents of the policies note that in many mass shooting cases, including the one in Uvalde, friends and relatives of the suspects noticed signs of mental distress or interest in violence before an attack was carried out.

New York had a red flag law in place when, earlier this month, another gunman opened fire in a grocery store in Buffalo, killing 10. The Buffalo gunman had previously been referred by law enforcement for a psychiatric evaluation but retained his guns anyway.

Any new red flag law considered by Congress would need to be tight enough to apply to individuals like the Buffalo shooter yet lenient enough to earn the buy-in of GOP lawmakers skeptical of any legislation that appears to curb gun rights.

At least a handful of Senate Republicans expressed a willingness to entertain renewed talks over a law of this sort the day after the Texas shooting.

HR 8

A bill that passed the House in March of last year would require prospective gun owners to undergo a background check for all manner of gun sales.

The legislation would require background checks for firearm purchases at gun shows or from unlicensed sellers who peddle their guns online, neither of which are currently required in every state.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took procedural steps this week to move HR 8 forward more than a year after it passed the House, although it’s unlikely the bill will attract the votes necessary to avoid a filibuster.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said he believes the bill goes too far in expanding background checks.


Schumer also took procedural steps to advance another bill that passed the House last year, but that has lain dormant since.

That bill would close what’s known as the “Charleston loophole,” a federal law that allows gun sales to move forward after three business days regardless of whether a background check has been completed.

The shooter in the racially motivated 2015 attack on a Charleston church had obtained his gun due to a background check failure that gun control advocates say could be addressed by requiring gun sales to be delayed at least 10 days to await the completion of a background check.

Like the other bill that passed the House last spring, HR 1446 was not brought up in the Senate previously for a reason: The bill was unlikely to receive 60 votes in the upper chamber.


Raising the age at which an individual can legally purchase certain types of firearms has entered the conversation thanks to a tragic connection between the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings: Both shooters were just 18 years old.

Under current federal law, individuals can buy shotguns and rifles at age 18 but can only buy other types of firearms, such as handguns, at age 21.

This proposal in theory restricts access to guns less than some of the others Democrats have floated and could attract more Republican support. Democrats, however, may contend that this change on its own does not go far enough in curbing gun access.


A compromise struck by two centrist lawmakers, Manchin and retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), would impose background checks for some types of gun sales, though not all, that aren’t currently covered by federal law.

Private sales between family members and friends would not trigger background check requirements under the bipartisan compromise, though online sales or sales at gun shows would.

The 2013 deal was the result of bipartisan talks that intensified after the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six faculty dead.

But even that deal fizzled in the absence of enough bipartisan support to get it over the 60-vote threshold.

With enough urgency after the Uvalde tragedy, however, a bill as narrow as Manchin and Toomey's could gain enough momentum to succeed.


Some Republican candidates and commentators called for Congress to approve funding for more armed security at schools.


Proponents of such proposals say arming guards at schools could more effectively deter would-be school shooters than gun control measures.

However, this kind of proposal is unlikely to gain much traction in a Democratic-controlled Congress that has so far focused its rhetoric almost exclusively on firearm-focused legislation rather than mental health or other security measures.