A bipartisan group of senators reached agreement Sunday on the framework for a gun safety bill that is likely to pass Congress. With 10 Republicans signing on to the deal, the final legislation is close to filibuster-proof and should reach President Joe Biden’s desk.
The agreement, which needs to be hammered into final form, followed a stunning surge in mass shootings in recent weeks.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) spearheaded the effort and warned gun control advocates that an assault weapons ban or comprehensive background checks were not on the table.
The agreement calls for a final bill to eliminate straw-purchases of weapons, support crisis intervention orders declared by states, fund stronger mental health resources, strengthen protection for domestic violence victims, and add money for school safety and mental health efforts.
A key part of the deal is the inclusion of a “red flag” provision. This move will increase resources for keeping deadly weapons from people who a court determines to present “a significant danger to themselves or others.”
Republicans succeeded in getting mental health programs they sought while Democrats won expanded background checks for those under 21. There will be a required investigation period for checking juvenile and mental health records that includes state and local sources.
After the announcement, the White House was quick to praise the agreement while noting its limitations. Biden said Sunday that the deal does not include everything “I think is needed.”
He added, however, that it is an important move “in the right direction.”
Four of the senators remained in talks all weekend and communicated with other members of the group. There was little doubt that any final result would pass Democratic muster, but having 10 GOP senators on board was key.
In a statement, the senators said that people are frightened and it was the duty of the group to “help restore their sense of safety and security.”
The House passed the Protecting Our Kids Act last week, a sprawling measure that drew sharp criticism from 2nd Amendment defenders. It has virtually no chance of success in the Senate. It will be interesting to note the reception this Senate agreement gets across the political aisles.