A narrow bipartisan bill to protect guns has been introduced in the Senate. It could be the first piece of gun control legislation that Congress has considered in decades.
Negotiations between 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats led to the legislation. They began following two mass shootings in Buffalo (New York) and Uvalde (Texas) that occurred less than one week apart. It is expected that it will have enough votes to pass the 60-vote threshold in order to clear a filibuster within the Senate. The Senate is split 50-50 between the two parties. The bill is expected to be quickly considered by the House and President Joe Biden has urged Congress to approve it immediately.
Both Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have publicly supported the bill and said they would vote for it.
McConnell stated in a statement that "our colleagues have assembled a commonsense package containing popular steps that will make these horrifying events less likely while fully upholding Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens."
In a joint statement, the senators stated that their legislation would save lives and not violate any law-abiding American's Second Amendment rights. We look forward to gaining broad bipartisan support and putting our commonsense legislation into effect.
The legislation is actively opposed by gun rights groups, including NRA.
This is a significant breakthrough in a narrow effort to prevent mass shootings such as the one at Uvalde's elementary school last month. The bill would allow prospective gun buyers aged between 18 and 21 to have their background checked. This new process would encourage states to give access to previously sealed juvenile records. It could increase the time it takes to complete a purchase.
"States can control what [juvenile] records they are willing to share. Our legislation gives states an incentive to upload records that reflect the suitability of the individual to buy a firearm," Cornyn, the leading GOP negotiator, said on Tuesday afternoon.
An expansion of an existing law, which prohibits domestic abuse victims from owning guns, is another major change. Democrats have been trying for years to make it more clear that dating partners are included in the ban.
Gun safety legislation defines "dating relationships" as "relationships between individuals who have had or are currently having a serious relationship of a romantic, intimate or sexual nature."
It also contains a section that allows people who have been restricted from gun access by the legislation to have their guns rights restored if they maintain a clean record for at least five years.
In addition, the legislation includes $750 million in grants to encourage states to adopt red flag laws. These laws would allow law enforcement agencies or other entities to petition a court for guns to be removed from someone they consider a danger to themselves or others. This money can be used to fund crisis intervention grants, as well as red flag laws and states that have added mental health courts or drug courts.
Republicans demanded that public safety grants should be made available to all states and not just those that have passed red flag laws. Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator said that the funds would be available for other court-based interventions.
"This bill will not be affordable for all. Others will find it too expensive. Murphy said that it isn't a "box checking exercise." This bill is not window dressing. This bill will save lives.
Negotiators also agreed on new penalties for illegally buying a gun for someone else, known as straw purchasing. New sentencing guidelines allow for up 15 years for illegal purchases and up to 25 for gun trafficking, terrorism, or felony use.
Lawmakers also agreed that additional funding would be provided for telehealth programs, school safety and training funds, as well as community-based programs.
These are the school's provisions:
These provisions cover mental health:
Biden had called for comprehensive gun control legislation. This agreement is far from Biden's demands. It does not include a ban on assault rifles or universal background checks. Many Democrats and gun safety advocates celebrate the bipartisan legislation as an important step aEUR", with Democrats promising more action on guns in future.