That Chuck Schumer-Ted Cruz ‘sweet spot’ on gun control

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Cruz on 'Fox News Sunday.' ()
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At an event in Albany yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer floated the idea that he and Senator Ted Cruz might have some common ground on gun control.

According to a very brief report, Schumer said Cruz, who won a surprise primary victory last year running to the right of Rick Perry's preferred candidate in a Republican primary in Texas, was open to the idea of expanded background checks.

Schumer has been pushing for increased background checks since long before the Newtown shootings, and has called it the "sweet spot" for enacting actual legislation in the wake of that tragedy.

(President Obama has announced a number of "executive actions" but the fate of his more substantive legislative proposals, and even the Democratic strategy for attempting to pass it, is in doubt.)

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Asked about Schumer's comment, a spokesman for Cruz didn't rule out the idea that there might be some points of agreement between the two senators.

"Sen. Cruz outlined his position on Fox News Sunday two weeks ago, when he said the system can be 'improved' and referred to incomplete reporting of mental health information," said Sean Rushton, the spokesman, in an email, with a link to the appearance.

In the interview, Cruz accused politicians of trying to exploit the shootings and said, "I do not support their gun control agenda."

Asked if there was anything at all he could support, Cruz mentioned background checks.

"I don't think the proposals being discussed now make sense," he said. "Look, are there things we could do? Sure.

"One of the things we could do is we could improve the quality of the federal database. Right now a lot of states, a lot of local jurisdictions are not reporting criminal convictions, not reporting mental health barriers to ownership. So the federal database is not nearly as good as it should be. That would be a common-sense improvement. But that's not what's being proposed."

Cruz went on to dismiss Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal for a national gun registry. 

"I don't think the federal goverment has any business having a list of law abiding Americans who choose to exercise their right to keep and bear arms," he said.

Schumer is a longtime champion of more restrictive gun laws, having written the Brady Bill in the early 1990s, but he essentially muted his advocacy in recent years, in part out of concern for what a fight over guns might to do the chances of Democratic candidates and incumbents in pro-gun states.

"I think the high capacity magazines has a decent amount of support," Schumer said after his appearance yesterday, when asked by YNN's Liz Benjamin about the president's other proposals. "The assault weapons ban itself is going to be tough. But what the president said yesterday is right, he has to go around the country and rally support for it."

Schumer said the president needs to rally "the broad middle" who support new gun laws.

"If there is outrage today because of the killings like at Sandy Hook, and there have been many of them, then maybe we can get something done, even on assault weapons."