Bipartisan Senate Negotiators Agree on More Gun Legislation

Photo by STNGR Industries on Unsplash

A bipartisan congressional effort toward more gun control was reached on Sunday.

“Today, we are announcing a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the group of 20 Senators said in a statement. “Our plan increases needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can’t purchase weapons.”

The proposal moves the nation toward tighter gun laws. However, it does not reach the more ambitious legislation passed in the House last week.

Ten Republican senators and 10 Democrats joined forces to hammer out a significantly narrower framework than the Democrats wanted. The proposal would go after illegal gun sales, fund mental health programs, intensify background checks for those under 21 and school safety. However, it would not ban semi-automatic weapons, magazine capacity or raise the purchase age.

The remaining hurdles to converting the framework into detailed legislation focus primarily on the money. How much would the program’s cost, how would they be funded, and how would they be distributed?. For example, there are no specifics on the laws a state must pass to receive a grant relating to implementing “reg flag” laws, which would allow gun removal from persons “deemed unsafe,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

The skeleton agreement puts lawmakers on the road toward the most expansive bipartisan measure addressing gun violence since the assault-weapons ban in 1994. Some gun-control advocates praised the effort.

David Hogg, a gun safety activist who was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a gunman killed 17 students in 2018, was one.

“This is a first step and it’s actually a lot more than I thought it would be. This is progress, even if small. Even if it stops one Parkland, it’s worth it,” Hogg tweeted the day after thousands rallied in Washington, D.C., for a “March for Our Lives” event.

“Obviously, it does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction,” President Joe Biden said in a speech, then urged lawmakers to get it to his desk as quickly as possible.

The Biden administration and congressional Democrats are eager for progress this summer. However, with the midterm elections looming and presidential poll numbers tanking, it’s widely expected that Republicans will control at least one chamber of Congress next year. As a result, no gun legislation will likely be allowed on the House floor, let alone passed if the GOP is in the majority, according to U.S. News and World Report.