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GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham says Judiciary Committee will hold gun control hearing March 26

Key Points
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on gun control March 26.
  • Graham says the panel will discuss "red flag" laws that allow courts to take away firearms from some suspected dangerous individuals.
Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) uses imagees of handguns and rifles during a hearing about gun control on Capitol Hill January 30, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN on Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on gun control on March 26.

The influential committee chairman said the panel will discuss "red flag" laws, passed in many U.S. states, that allow courts to take away firearms from suspected dangerous individuals after receiving warnings from police officers or family members.

Red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection, enjoy bipartisan support and have been praised by the White House and the National Rifle Association.

Graham, who has become a close ally of the president, said he and Trump had discussed the matter. He noted that there was "a lot of common ground" on aspects of the proposal.

The hearing has not yet appeared on the committee's public schedule and the senator did not say who may be called as a witness.

But holding a hearing on gun control is nonetheless a remarkable development in the GOP-dominated Senate, whose Republican majority has historically opposed any new regulation on gun ownership.

In February, the Democratic-controlled House held its first hearing on gun control in eight years, and passed the first significant legislation on the matter in more than two decades.

The legislation would strengthen existing background check requirements for gun sales and transfers. The NRA blasted the bill as "extreme," and Trump vowed to veto it if it passed the Senate, which appears unlikely.

Red flag laws gained bipartisan support following the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018.

A month later, Graham and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced red flag legislation that ultimately never went anywhere. Also last March, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced similar legislation that would have encouraged states to adopt such laws.

In January, Rubio, alongside, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, reintroduced the legislation.

"Most of these cases have something in common, not all but most: A very disturbed person that people have interacted with before," Graham told CNN on Wednesday. "The Parkland shooting is Exhibit A. The guy did everything except take an ad out in the paper. The FBI got called, local cops got called and nobody did anything."

Graham said there would be "plenty" of due process protections included in any federal legislation.

"We're trying to drive states to create these laws with certain guidelines to make sure they actually work," he said. "But to let the states deal with this issue, but to incentivize them to do so."

In a statement, Rubio said he supported Graham's decision, saying his bill will "help keep our schools and communities safe by empowering law enforcement or family members to use the judicial system to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals while respecting individuals' Second Amendment rights."

"This approach has already proven successful in states like Florida, and it is my hope that this bill will get other states to do the same thing," he said.

A spokesperson for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee's ranking member, said he could not confirm the scheduling of a hearing. 

Graham did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Correction: This story was revised to correct Rubio's political party affiliation.