U.S. Senators release gun violence bill after bipartisan compromise

Senate negotiators have agreed on a bipartisan gun violence bill in the US after the recent mass shootings in Texas and Buffalo. It could be quickly passed by the Democrat-led House

Senate negotiators have agreed on a bipartisan gun violence bill in the US after the recent mass shootings in Texas and Buffalo. It could be quickly passed by the Democrat-led House

Senate negotiators on Tuesday agreed on a bipartisan gun violence bill that could give final approval by the end of the week for an incremental but landmark package that would serve as Congress’ response to mass shootings in Texas and New York that hit the nation. shocked.

Lawmakers released the 80-page bill nine days after agreeing a framework for the plan and 29 years after Congress last passed major firearms restrictions. It cleared an initial procedural hurdle by 64-34, with 14 Republicans joining all 48 Democrats and two allied independents voting yes. That strongly supported a prediction of approval later this week by Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.. A pass through the Democrat-led House could soon follow.

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Though Republicans blocked tougher restrictions sought by Democrats, the accord marks an election-year breakthrough on an issue that pits the GOP’s staunch gun owners and rural voters against the Democrats’ urban gun-wielding advocates. That makes it one of the most incendiary battlegrounds in politics and a sensitive voice for some lawmakers, especially Republicans that could alienate proponents of the Second Amendment.

The legislation would tighten background checks for the youngest firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks and increase penalties for arms dealers. It would also distribute money to states and communities to improve school safety and mental health initiatives.

Aides estimated the measure would cost about $15 billion, which Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator, said would be paid in full.

Prohibition for romantic partners with a history of violence

The bill resolves a final hurdle that delayed the deal: It would prohibit romantic partners convicted of domestic violence and not married to their victims from obtaining firearms. Convicted abusers who are married to, cohabiting with, or have had children with their victims are already banned from having guns.

The compromise prohibits weapons for a person who has “a current or recent past relationship with the victim.” That is defined in part as a relationship between people “who are or have had an ongoing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” An offender’s ability to possess a weapon can be restored after five years if they have not committed another serious crime. have committed.

Red Flag Gun Laws

In another belated dispute, the bill would raise $750 million for the 19 states and the District of Columbia that have “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily purchase firearms from people deemed dangerous, and others. states with violence prevention programs. “red flag” laws that receive the money should have legal proceedings for the gun owner to fight the disposal of the firearm.

The momentum in Congress for gun laws has waned rapidly in the past after mass shootings. Lawmakers are slated to start this weekend with a two-week recess on July 4.

Biden’s proposals are missing

The legislation lacks much more powerful proposals that President Joe Biden supports and which Democrats have been pushing for years unsuccessfully, derailed by the GOP opposition. These include banning assault weapons or raising the minimum age to purchase them, banning high-capacity magazines, and requiring background checks on virtually all gun sales.

But after 10 black shoppers were murdered last month in Buffalo, New York, and 19 children and two teachers died days later in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and some Republicans decided that measured steps were preferable to the usual Congressional response this time around. to such horrors. — stalemate.

Mr Murphy said that after Buffalo and Uvalde, “I saw a level of fear on the faces of the parents and the children I spoke to that I have never seen before.” He said his colleagues also experienced fear among voters “not only for the safety of their children, but also fear of the government’s ability to reach this moment and do something and do something meaningful.”

This bill, Murphy said, would “save thousands of lives.” Before entering the Senate, his House district included Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six staff members died in a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Top GOP Negotiator Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said of the pact: “Some think it goes too far, others think it doesn’t go far enough. And I get it. It’s the nature of compromise.”

But he added: “I believe that the same people who tell us to do something are sending us a clear message, to do what we can to keep our children and communities safe. I believe this legislation will put us in a positive direction. direction.”

In a positive sign about his fate, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expressed his support, calling it “a common-sense package of popular steps that will help make these horrific incidents less likely, while fully enhancing Second Amendment rights.” maintained – steadfast citizens.”

National Rifle Association against bill

The National Rifle Association, which has spent decades derailing gun laws, expressed opposition. “It falls short on every level. It does little to really tackle violent crime, while opening the door to undue burdens of the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners,” the gun lobby group said.

It seemed likely that a majority of Republicans — especially in the House — would be against the legislation.

To underscore the backlash from GOP lawmakers backing the pact from the most far-right voters, delegates chased Mr. Cornyn at his state’s Republican convention in Houston Saturday as he outlined the proposal.

In another measure of conservative sentiment, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a potential 2024 Republican presidential nominee, tweeted that the bill “ignores the national crime wave and instead breaks down the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens.” sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a possible White House contender, said it would “limit the freedoms of law-abiding Americans and put too much power in the hands of politicians and political officials.”

The measure needs at least 10 GOP votes to reach the 60-vote threshold that major bills often require in the 50-50 Senate. Mr Cornyn told reporters he expected at least 10 GOP votes for the measure.

What’s uncertain is whether passage would be the start of slow but gradual action to curb gun violence, or the high-water mark on the matter. Until Buffalo and Uvalde, a narcotic parade of mass murders — in locations such as elementary and middle schools, places of worship, military facilities, bars and the Las Vegas Strip — has reached a stalemate in Washington alone.

“Thirty years, murder after murder, suicide after suicide, mass shooting after mass shooting, Congress did nothing,” Murphy said. “This week we have the chance to break this 30-year silence with a bill that will change our laws in a way that will save thousands of lives.”

Background checks

The bill would require federal background checks for gun buyers ages 18 to 20 to include an investigation of the buyer’s juvenile file. That could add up to seven additional days to the current three-day limit for background checks.

The suspects in the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings were both 18 years old, a profile consistent with many recent mass shootings.

There would be hundreds of millions of dollars to expand community health centers, train telemedicine visits for mental specialists and first responders to treat people with mental health problems. More than $2 billion would be provided to hire and train staff for school mental health services, including $300 million to improve school safety.

Congress banned assault-type firearms in 1993, a ban that expired after a decade, the last sweeping lawmakers’ law on gun violence.

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