12:52 PM PDT, June 12, 2022
A bipartisan group of senators say they have reached a tentative agreement on federal gun control legislation after the latest set of gruesome mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Topps Supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and a medical building at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On Sunday afternoon, 20 senators – an even split of Democrats and Republicans – announced measures that would sink billions of dollars into school security and mental health centers, and provides some new gun restrictions, but doesn’t go as far as President Biden and gun control advocates had hoped.
The deal could mean Congress may be on its way to enacting the biggest response to mass shootings in the U.S. in decades.
The legislation would include so-called “Red Flag” laws, which would allow law enforcement to temporarily take dangerous weapons away from people who pose a danger to others or themselves, close the “boyfriend loophole,” which would prevent anyone convicted of abuse against their partner from getting a firearm. It also includes billions for school safety and community mental health centers, would create the first ever federal law against gun trafficking and straw purchasing, and expand background checks on those under 21 who are looking to buy firearms.
Senator Chris Murphy is on the bipartisan committee and tweeted Sunday afternoon, “Will this bill do everything we need to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic? No. But it’s real, meaningful progress. And it breaks a 30 year log jam, demonstrating that Democrats and Republicans can work together in a way that truly saves lives,” he began.
“Drafting this law and passing it through both chambers will not be easy. We have a long way before this gets to the President’s desk. But with your help and activism, we can get this done. This time, failure cannot be an option.”
One element that the legislation does not include is a provision President Joe Biden supports– raising the minimum age to purchase at least some firearms from 18-21. Handguns are already subject to a federal 21-and-over age limit.
President Biden tweeted in response, “I want to thank Senator Chris Murphy and the bipartisan group for their gun safety proposal. It does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction. With bipartisan support, there are no excuses for delay. Let’s get this done.”
David Hogg, co-founder of anti-gun violence group March for Our Lives and a survivor of the 2018 Parkland School massacre was asked on social media whether he is happy about the move. “Yes it’s a first step,” Hogg said in response. “But this is a lot more than I thought it would be and it is progress.”
If all 50 Democrats vote in support of the measure, and the 10 Republicans who agreed to this legislation maintain their support, the bill can advance in the Senate once it is introduced.