In response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people dead at Robb Elementary School, a bipartisan group of 20 senators led by Sens Chris Murphy (Democrat – Connecticut) and John Cornyn (Republican -Texas) on Sunday (local time) announced they have agreed to “a common-sense proposal” to curb gun violence.
In a major development, 10 Republicans signed onto the bipartisan framework, which means any legislation based on its principles has a good chance of mustering 60 votes and overcoming a filibuster on the Senate floor, reported The Hill.
US President Joe Biden applauded the deal, which he said “would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades,” and pledged to sign it.
The nine-point bipartisan plan would send federal resources to set up red flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed dangerous to the community, invest billions of dollars in children and family mental health services, fund school-based mental health services, fund new safety measures at schools and strengthen criminal background check requirements for gun buyers younger than 21, reported The Hill.
“Today, we are announcing a common sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement released shortly before noon Sunday.
“Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities,” they said.
The new proposals include tougher background checks for gun buyers under 21, increasing resources for states to keep weapons out of the hands of people deemed a risk, and cracking down on illegal gun purchases.
The announcement comes just in time to meet a deadline that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) set for the bipartisan negotiations, reported The Hill.
Schumer threatened to bring gun-control legislation to the floor for a vote, whether or not it had bipartisan support if Republicans did not agree to something quickly.
Republican lawmakers have repeatedly blocked tougher measures, and are still resisting major changes to gun regulations, instead of pointing to mental health issues as the root of the problem.
The Democratic leader promised “to put this bill on the floor as soon as possible” once the text of the agreement is finalized, reported The Hill.
Democrats hope they can bring a gun-violence package to the floor the week of June 20, after the chamber has finished work on a bill to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to help veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he is pleased the bipartisan talks are making good progress.
McConnell said the principles announced by the group “show the value of dialogue and cooperation.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the agreement “a step forward” but vowed to continue fighting for more aggressive gun control measures that passed the House this week.
The legislative framework calls for including domestic violence restraining orders in the national instant criminal background check system, clarifying the definition of a federally licensed firearm dealer to include more people who sell a high volume of firearms, and creating new penalties for people who illegally purchase and traffic firearms, reported The Hill.