US Senators Reach Bipartisan Compromise on Gun Violence Bill

WASHINGTON-

US Senate negotiators reached an agreement Tuesday on a bipartisan bill on gun violence, which could set up final approval by the weekend of an incremental but historic package that would stand as the answer. of Congress to the mass shootings in Texas and New York that rocked the nation.

Lawmakers released the 80-page bill nine days after agreeing on a framework for the plan and 29 years after Congress last enacted major restrictions on firearms. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., forecast Senate passage later this week, and passage by the Democratic-led House could follow quickly.

Although Republicans blocked the tougher restrictions requested by Democrats, the deal marks an election-year breakthrough on an issue that pits rural voters and GOP gun owners against urban supporters of gun restrictions. Democrat fire. That makes it one of the most incendiary culture war battlegrounds in politics and a sensitive vote for some lawmakers, particularly Republicans who could ward off Second Amendment stalwarts.

The legislation would toughen background checks for younger firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks, and tighten penalties on gun dealers. It would also disburse money to states and communities aimed at improving school safety and mental health initiatives.

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

Resolving a final hurdle that delayed the deal, the bill would bar romantic partners convicted of domestic violence and who are not married to their victims from obtaining firearms. Convicted abusers who are married to, live with, or have children with their victims are already prohibited from owning weapons.

The compromise prohibits weapons to a person who has “a current or recent dating relationship with the victim.” That is defined in part as one between people “who are or have recently had a serious continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” An offender’s ability to own a gun could be restored after five years if she has not committed another felony.

In another belated dispute, the bill would provide $750 million to the 19 states and the District of Columbia that have “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily take firearms from people deemed dangerous, and to other states with firearms prevention programs. violence. States with “red flag” laws that receive the funds would have to have legal processes for the gun owner to fight the removal of the firearm.

Momentum in Congress for gun legislation has a history of flagging rapidly after mass shootings, and lawmakers are scheduled to begin a two-week recess on July 4 at the end of this week.

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

Yet after 10 black shoppers were killed last month in Buffalo, New York, and 19 children and two teachers died days later in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and some Republicans decided that this time, measured steps were preferable to the usual reaction of Congress to such horrors. — jam.

Murphy said that after the Buffalo and Uvalde murders, “I saw a level of fear on the faces of the parents and children I spoke with that I had never seen before.” He said his colleagues also found anxiety and fear among voters “not only for the safety of their children, but also for the government’s ability to rise to 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 perished in a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The top Republican negotiator, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said of the deal: “Some think it goes too far, some think it doesn’t go far enough. And I get that. It’s the nature of compromise.”

But he added: “I think the very people who are telling us to do something are sending us a clear message, to do what we can to keep our children and communities safe. I’m confident that this legislation is taking us in a positive direction.” .”

Momentum in Congress for gun legislation has a history of flagging rapidly after mass shootings, and lawmakers are scheduled to begin a two-week recess on July 4 at the end of this week.

In a positive sign about its fate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, voiced his support, calling it “a common-sense package of grassroots steps that will help make these horrific incidents less likely while Second Amendment law rights are fully upheld.” – permanent citizens”.

The National Rifle Association, which has spent decades derailing gun control legislation, said it opposes the move. “He falls short on every level. It does little to really address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary charges on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners,” the gun lobby group said.

It seemed likely that most Republicans, especially in the House, would oppose the legislation.

Underscoring the backlash that Republican lawmakers who support the pact would face from more conservative voters, delegates booed Cornyn at his state’s Republican convention in Houston on Saturday when he outlined the move.

In another measure of conservative sentiment, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a likely 2024 Republican presidential candidate, tweeted that the bill “ignores the national crime wave and instead undermines the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens.” law”. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, another possible White House contender, said it would “restrict the freedoms of law-abiding Americans and put too much power in the hands of politicians and political officials.”

The measure will need at least 10 Republican votes to reach the 60-vote threshold that major bills typically need in the 50-50 Senate. Ten Republican senators joined 10 Democrats in backing the framework, with Cornyn telling reporters “I think there will be at least” 10 Republican votes for the measure.

What is uncertain is whether the deal and its passage would mark the beginning of slow but gradual action in Congress to curb gun violence, or the high point of the issue. Even Buffalo and Uvalde, a mind-numbing parade of mass murder, at sites that include elementary and high schools, places of worship, military installations, bars and the Las Vegas Strip, have only produced a deadlock in Washington.

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

For the first time, the bill would require that federal background checks for gun buyers ages 18 to 20 include a review of the purchaser’s juvenile record. That additional information collection could add up to seven more days to the current three-day limit on background checks.

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

There would be hundreds of millions of dollars to expand community behavioral health centers, telemedicine visits for mental specialists, and train first responders to manage 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 firearms in 1993 in a ban that expired after a decade, lawmakers’ latest sweeping legislation addressing gun violence.


Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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