Democrats and Republicans agree on a shy gun control bill
A bipartisan group of lawmakers released the first significant gun control legislative proposal in decades Tuesday, paving the way for the U.S. Senate to move to vote on it this week in the wake of two mass shootings that killed dozens of people and shocked a nation rocked by gun violence.
The 80-page bill includes provisions that would help states keep guns out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others and close the so-called boyfriend loophole by blocking gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried partners.
In the wake of mass shootings at a New York grocery store and a Texas elementary school that authorities say were committed by teenagers, the legislation would allow states to provide juvenile records to the national background check system for gun purchases.
Lawmakers said the Senate is likely to take its first procedural vote in the next few hours on a motion to proceed with a House bill that would serve as the Senate’s legislative vehicle.
“I believe we will pass legislation this week that will become the most significant anti-gun violence legislation Congress has passed in 30 years. This is a breakthrough,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, the Democratic leader in the talks on the Senate floor. “More importantly, it’s a bipartisan breakthrough.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged to move forward as soon as possible, with a motion expected to proceed. “This bipartisan gun safety legislation is progress and will save lives. While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently needed,” Schumer said in a statement.
Schumer’s Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, called the legislation “a common sense package” in a statement in which he pledged his own support.
With the Senate’s 100 seats evenly divided, the legislation will need the support of at least 10 Republicans to move forward with the procedure.
The nation’s largest gun “lobby,” the National Rifle Association, asserted on Twitter that it opposed the legislation because it could be abused to restrict legal gun purchases. This statement from the politically powerful group could affect the number of Republicans who vote for the measure, as it is a notable financial contributor to their election campaigns.
Sen. John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator in the bipartisan talks, expressed hope that the legislation would succeed. “We know there is no such thing as perfect legislation. We are imperfect human beings. But we have to try, and I think this bill is a step in the right direction,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor.
Releasing the legislation Tuesday would help ensure the Senate’s chances of passing it before lawmakers leave for their two-week break on July 4. Some aides suggested that lawmakers could stay until the weekend to vote on the bill.
The bipartisan group has been working on a deal to curb gun violence since a young gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, less than two weeks after 10 people were killed in a racist shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
The measure announced Tuesday does not go as far as Democrats, including President Joe Biden, had sought. Still, if passed, it would be the most significant action to combat gun violence to emerge from Congress in years.
Lawmakers reached agreement on a provision to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws, in which guns can be temporarily taken away from people deemed dangerous. It also provides funding for states that use other forms of intervention to achieve the same result.