WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators said Sunday that they have an agreement in principle on gun control legislation, though lawmakers did not provide detailed, specific legislation.
“Families are scared and it is our duty to come together and do something to help restore their sense of safety in their communities,” a group of 20 senators said in a statement outlining their plan.
Ten of the signers were Republicans, the number needed to break a GOP filibuster on the package.
The group said its plan “increases needed mental health resources, improves school safety and student support, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those declared mentally ill cannot purchase guns.”
Lawmakers who have long sought to toughen the nation’s gun laws redoubled their efforts after the recent mass murders at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., called the deal “a good first step,” adding, “We must move quickly to move this legislation forward because if one life can be saved, it’s worth it.” the effort”.
The proposal is far more limited than changes pushed by President Joe Biden to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, add universal background checks and raise the minimum age to buy guns to 21. Still, he urged immediate approval in both chambers.
“Obviously, it doesn’t do everything that I think is needed,” Biden said, “but it does reflect important steps in the right direction, and it would be the most important gun safety legislation Congress will pass in decades.”
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, issued a lukewarm statement praising the negotiators’ work but without specifically endorsing their proposal.
“I continue to hope that their discussions will produce a bipartisan product that makes significant progress on key issues like mental health and school safety, upholds the Second Amendment, wins broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country,” he said.
The senators who signed the declaration included the four who led the negotiations: Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; John Cornyn, Republican from Texas; Thom Tillis, R.N.C.; and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. The others are: Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Roy Blunt, Republican from Missouri; Cory Booker, Democrat from New Jersey; Richard Burr, R.N.C.; Bill Cassidy, Republican from Los Angeles; Susan Collins, Republican of Maine; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Lindsey Graham, RS.C.; Martin Heinrich, DN.M.; Mark Kelly, Democrat from Arizona; Angus King, I-Maine; Joe Manchin, DW. Virginia; Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio; Mitt Romney, Republican from Utah; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
There is a slim chance of political blowback for the Republicans who signed the proposal; four of the 10 Republican senators are retiring this year. Five others won’t run for re-election until 2026. The tenth, Romney, often goes his own way.
Murphy, an especially vocal advocate for new gun laws since the 2012 mass killings at an elementary school in his home state of Connecticut, called the deal “a groundbreaking deal on gun violence, the first in 30 years, that will save lives”.
What’s in the gun law deal?
The group said its proposal includes:
- Support for state intervention in crisis
- Investing in mental health services for children and families
- Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence
- Funding for mental health and support services in schools
- Funding for School Safety Resources
- Clarification of the definition of a federally licensed firearms dealer
- Investments in telehealth
- Penalties for buying straw
The plan also calls for an “enhanced review process” for young gun buyers.
“For buyers under the age of 21, an investigation period is required to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement,” the statement said.
House action on gun bills
House lawmakers voted last week to raise the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, following a day of moving testimonies from mass shooting survivors, including a fourth-grade student, a mother caring for her injured son and parents who lost a 10-year-old daughter.
The House approved, in a party-line vote, the age change as part of a package of gun reform measures that would also crack down on gun trafficking, ban accelerants and require safe storage of firearms. The bill, known as the Protect Our Children Act, is headed to the Senate, where it is not expected to pass because Republicans have enough votes to block gun legislation.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that all options on the table need to be looked at closely when it comes to guns.
“I think we really need to look at the text. And once we look at that text, I think we’ll be able to see if this legislation has been crafted responsibly, and I hope it has,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
She hopes to vote yes on the gun legislation deal announced Sunday by a group of senators.
Rep. Chris Jacobs, RN.Y., a longtime supporter of gun ownership, is in favor of some gun controls, including raising the minimum age to buy guns. He grew up in Buffalo, although he does not represent the city.
“So, I’m going to do everything I can. I have to, in my heart of hearts, think about everything I can do to make sure that no other community has to experience what happened in my city and what happened with all those beautiful children.” there in Uvalde,” he said.
Reaction from both sides
The National Rifle Association did not comment in detail, saying in a statement that it “takes no position on ‘frameworks’ and added that” we will make our position known when the full text of the bill is available for review.
The NRA also said it “will continue to oppose any efforts to insert gun control policies, initiatives that override constitutional due process protections, and efforts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves and their families.” loved ones in this or any other legislation. .”
Vice President Kamala Harris praised the bipartisan group of senators that crafted the safety weapon proposal on Sunday, calling it an “important step to save lives.”
“This gun safety proposal is an important step in saving lives,” Harris said. “While it doesn’t reflect everything we need to do, I applaud Senator Chris Murphy and the bipartisan group of leaders who came together to bring this forward. Enough is enough.”
“This is a huge step forward for gun safety,” Aspen Fain, a volunteer with Kentucky Students Demand Action, said in a statement.
Fain added that young people will continue “fighting until this agreement is complete, and we look forward to the day we celebrate in Washington, DC instead of begging our legislators to keep us safe.”
Contributors: Joey Garrison, Merdie Nzanga