A bipartisan group of Senators announced a deal to address guns, mental health, and school safety.
A bipartisan group of Senators announced a compromise legislative framework to address last month’s mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX.
- The deal was negotiated by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) and has the support of 10 Republicans – enough to get past a Senate filibuster.
- The plan would include:
- A funding program for states to enact state crisis intervention orders or “red flag” laws to keep guns away from individuals that courts have found to be a danger to themselves or others while maintaining constitutional and due process protections.
- Expanded community behavioral health centers and access to community and school mental health services, including early identification and intervention programs.
- The inclusion of information about convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals under domestic violence restraining orders in the federal NICS background check system to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”
- Increased school safety and violence prevention funding.
- Enhanced background checks for buyers under 21 years old, including an investigative period to review juvenile court and mental health records, state databases, and local law enforcement.
- Increased penalties for illegally straw purchasing and trafficking guns and evading federal firearm dealer licensing requirements.
- President Joe Biden said the plan “does not do everything I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.
- The bipartisan group wants to pass the bill before the July 4 recess. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the plan, and several other Republicans may support its final passage.
- CNN called the bill a “real breakthrough” while acknowledging it is a more “tenuous and modest step” than many progressives (and journalists) prefer. The author wrote the bill’s modesty “tells its own story about Congress’ paralysis in the face of so much death.”
- The Washington Post assessed the odds the deal could pass both houses of Congress. The Post believes the odds are “pretty good,” although some Republicans expressed caution until a legislative text is agreed to and released.
- The Guardian noted the bill “falls far short” of Democrats’ preferred gun control agenda. The compromise does not include an assault weapons ban or an increase in the age of legal purchase from 18 to 21, as many progressives hoped.
- The Wall Street Journal observed the bill does not ban any weapons and will have virtually no effect on adults over 21 without domestic violence convictions or restraining orders. A broad swath of Republicans has signed on, from moderates like Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney to conservatives like Sens. Thom Tillis and Pat Toomey.
- Fox News reported the National Rifle Association released a vague statement on the package. The NRA said they are “committed to real solutions to help stop violence in our communities” including more school safety and mental health resources (which are included in the framework). The NRA said they would not make a full statement until the legislative text is released.
- The Washington Examiner read between the lines of the NRA’s statement and argued they “appear supportive” of the bipartisan framework.
The bipartisan framework includes many policy components that liberals and conservatives alike can support including increased school safety funding, expanded mental health funding for schools and communities, and a crackdown on illegal gun trafficking. Some conservatives have expressed skepticism about red flag laws, and many progressives wish the bill would go further, but a narrowly targeted plan like this may be the only legislation that could pass the 50-50 Senate.
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© Dominic Moore, 2022