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Senate negotiators reach framework deal on bipartisan gun package


Jane Harman of Tacoma MD. While attending the gun safety reform rally at Capitol Reflecting Pool, Monday June 6, 2022, in Washington DC, Jane Harman holds a sign.

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Key senators announced a framework agreement on new gun legislation Sunday, marking a breakthrough on a collection of measures to combat gun violence, including “red flag” laws and enhanced background checks on buyers.

Chief negotiators for the agreement are Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a vocal proponent of gun safety legislations and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a strong Second Amendment advocate, who promised that the new measures wouldn’t affect the rights of law-abiding Americans. Sources familiar with negotiations say that the final bill is still not written.

Murphy, Cornyn, and the other senators who participated in the discussions said that they were announcing a bipartisan, common-sense proposal to safeguard America’s children and keep schools safe. Families are afraid, so it’s our responsibility to work together to restore safety and security for their families.”

The Senate deal is more likely than the Democratic-authored series gun bills which passed the House last Wednesday. It has the support of key Republicans. They have the effective 60-vote filibuster rule, and can veto any gun legislation in the Senate.

One of the key components to the Senate deal are substantial resources to allow states to implement red flag laws. These laws permit individuals, such as family members or police officers to petition courts for firearms to be kept away from those deemed to pose a threat to others or themselves.

At the moment, red flag laws exist in 19 states and District of Columbia. These new provisions aim to increase that number while improving their implementation.

A more thorough background check is required for all persons aged between 18 and 21. This includes enhanced review, which may include contacting the state and local authorities for criminal records that might be disqualifying. Also, it allows for state organisations to access mental health information that could affect the decision.

This proposal clarifies the ambiguities surrounding who is required to register as a Federally Licensed Gun Dealer for background checks.

The senators stated that the plan would increase mental health resources and improve school safety, support students and ensure that dangerous criminals, as well as those adjudicated mentally ill, can’t buy weapons. Our plan not only saves lives, but also protects the Constitution rights of law-abiding Americans. We are looking forward to gaining broad bipartisan support for our commonsense plan and putting it into law.

In order to increase prosecutions of traffickers it adds penalties for those who “straw purchase” guns. It also authorizes additional money to support school safety and mental health services.

Sources familiar with negotiations indicated that the agreement will also contain a clause to fix the “boyfriend loophole” on domestic violence.