GOP presidential candidate calls for stronger gun background checks

Former GOP Rep. Will Hurd said fellow Republicans are worried about the political ramifications if they support gun control measures.
Posted at 11:06 AM, Aug 29, 2023

Former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican 2024 presidential candidate, told Scripps News' "Morning Rush" that he favors expanding background checks for gun purchases. 

Hurd joined "Morning Rush" on Tuesday just days after a racist shooting at a Jacksonville, Florida, Dollar General store left three Black people dead. Hurd said as he represented Uvalde, Texas, during the Robb Elementary School shooting, he was affected by that gun violence. 

"The number of communities that I've had to represent that have been touched by gun violence ... we need to start doing more than talking about thoughts and prayers, the things that we could be doing, you know, comprehensive background checks," Hurd said. "That's something that Republican primary voters support and Democratic primary voters support, making sure states have strong red flag laws that protect people's civil liberties. That's something that people are supportive of."

Hurd said he previously had an A rating with the National Rifle Association and considers himself a "proud gun owner." But he said Republican colleagues are "afraid of political ramifications in primaries."

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Polling has shown significant support for requiring background checks for all gun sales. In 2022, Gallup found that 92% of U.S. adults favor background checks in all instances. The poll also found that 70% of Americans believe background checks are very effective at preventing mass shootings. 

There is also popular support for raising the age to purchase certain firearms from 18 to 21. Gallup's 2022 poll found that 3 out of 4 Americans favor raising the age to 21 for certain gun purchases. About 40% say raising the age would be very effective at stopping mass shootings, while 26% say it would be somewhat effective. 

"We wouldn't have families that had to bury their children prematurely if the age to purchase a high-caliber semiautomatic rifle was the same as the age to purchase a handgun," he said. "There would be 19 more kids in Uvalde, Texas, going to school rather than having 19 families continue to have to deal with the grieving of burying their children prematurely."

Hurd faces a long-shot bid at the GOP nomination. He was not among the eight candidates included in last week's Republican debate. Hurd said he was disappointed that most of his Republican opponents said they would support former President Donald Trump if he becomes the party's nominee. 

"If the Republican Party wants to be the party of law and order, then guess what, we need to be putting forward ideas on how to address everything from gun violence to following the law when a jury of your peers tells someone that they committed a crime," Hurd said.