Senators reach final bipartisan agreement on gun safety bill : NPR

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the top Democratic negotiator on a bipartisan gun safety bill, speaks to activists protesting gun violence and demanding action from lawmakers, June 8 near of the US Capitol.

Nicolas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images


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Nicolas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images


Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the top Democratic negotiator on a bipartisan gun safety bill, speaks to activists protesting gun violence and demanding action from lawmakers, June 8 near of the US Capitol.

Nicolas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Senate negotiators have reached a final agreement on a bipartisan gun safety bill that could become the first gun control measure to pass Congress in decades.

The legislation is the result of negotiations between 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, and is expected to have more than enough votes to cross the 60-vote threshold to eliminate a filibuster in the Senate, which is divided 50-50 between the parties. House leaders are expected to begin consideration of the bill quickly, and President Biden has encouraged Congress to pass the bill without delay.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both announced their support for the bill and both said that they would vote for.

“Our colleagues have put in place a set of grassroots, common sense measures that will help make these horrific incidents less likely while fully respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” McConnell said in a statement.

The senses. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, RN.C., spent several days racing to finish the legislation in time for the Senate to start voting this week.

“Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans,” the senators said in a joint statement. “We look forward to winning broad bipartisan support and getting our common sense legislation into law.”

The result is a breakthrough in a narrow attempt to prevent mass shootings like the one that occurred last month at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The bill would expand background checks on potential gun buyers between the ages of 18 and 21. The new process would encourage states to provide access to previously sealed juvenile records and could add several days to the waiting period before a purchase can be made.

“States will control what [juvenile records] they are ready to share. But our legislation encourages states to download records that reflect an individual’s suitability to purchase a firearm,” Cornyn, the chief GOP negotiator, said in the Senate Tuesday afternoon.

Another major change is the extension of an existing law that bars those convicted of domestic violence from owning a firearm. Democrats have tried for years to expand the definition of who qualifies for the ban to include dating partners, rather than spouses and ex-spouses.

Gun safety legislation defines a “romantic relationship” as “a relationship between persons who have or have recently had a serious ongoing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”

However, it also includes a new section allowing people whose access to firearms is restricted under the legislation to have their firearms rights restored if their record remains clean for five years.

The legislation also includes incentives for states to create so-called red flag laws that would allow law enforcement or other entities to ask a court to remove firearms from someone deemed a threat. for themselves or for others. The money is structured as a crisis intervention grant that can apply to red flag laws but also to states that add mental health courts and drug courts.

Republicans had pushed for public safety grants to be available to all states, not just those passing red flag laws, and Murphy, the chief Democratic negotiator, said those funds would be available for other court interventions. .

“This bill will be too little for many. It will be too much for others. But this is not a box-checking exercise,” Murphy said. “This bill is not window dressing. This bill will save lives.”

Lawmakers also agreed to include additional funding for telehealth programs to enable expanded access to mental health across the country, money for school safety and training, and community outreach programs. Mental Health.

The deal falls far short of Biden’s calls for comprehensive gun control legislation, including a ban on assault rifles and universal background checks. But many Democrats and gun safety advocates are celebrating the bipartisan legislation as an important progressive step — with Democrats promising new gun measures in the future.