John Cornyn says idea of universal background checks makes him ‘crazy’

by | Aug 23, 2019 | Gun violence, Policy

Sen. John Cornyn continues to oppose universal background checks, a measure supported by more than 90 percent of Texans.

“Well this is what makes me crazy,” Cornyn said of background checks during an appearance on the Mark Davis Show on Thursday. “In the wake of the Dayton and the El Paso shooting, the Democrats and the people on the left say we need to enhance our background checks. Well, both of the shooters passed background checks. In other words, what they’re saying is, ‘let’s pass additional laws that would not have stopped anything.’”

The purpose of background checks, says gun safety advocates, isn’t to prevent all mass shootings, but rather to address day-to-day gun violence that kills 30,000 people in the U.S. annually.

And just because two recent mass shootings may not have been prevented by background checks doesn’t mean others won’t; about a third of mass shooting incidents were done by shooters who illegally possessed firearms, according to research by Everytown for Gun Safety examining 173 mass shootings incidents between 2009 and 2017.

Under current Texas law, background checks are not required for private sales, such as guns purchased between individuals or at gun shows. That means felons and people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors– two groups of people barred from possessing firearms in Texas– can easily acquire a firearm by attending a gun show.

“Senator Cornyn is being irresponsible,” Ed Scruggs, vice-chair for Texas Gun Sense, told The Signal. “If he doesn’t believe background checks save lives, why was he so eager to fix the system after Sutherland Springs?”

(Following Sutherland Springs, Cornyn helped passed a bill strengthening the FBI’s background check system.)

“Does he not believe we have an expansive crisis involving gun violence in this country?” Scruggs continued. “Does he not believe we should take steps to save more lives?”

The gun lobby has given Cornyn over $200,000—the 6th highest total of any senator, who has an “A” rating by the National Rifle Association. 

Also on the radio show Cornyn took a jab at the Democrats in Texas running against him. He said he’s “sort of playing Paul Revere and saying, you know, ‘the socialists are coming,’ and we need to get prepared.” | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at

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