Senate gun violence bill: Senators near agreement on compromise

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said he expects Senate approval by the end of the week.

WASHINGTON — Senate negotiators on Tuesday agreed on a bipartisan gun violence bill that may contain the final passage by the end of the week for an incremental but landmark package that would act as Congressional response to mass shootings in Texas and New York that shook 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 firearm restrictions. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said he expects Senate approval by the end of the week.

Though Republicans blocked tougher restrictions the Democrats were seeking, the deal marks an election-year breakthrough on an issue that pits the GOP’s staunch gun owners and rural voters against Democrats’ urban gun-restriction advocates. That makes it one of the most inflammatory battlegrounds of the Culture War in politics and a thorny choice for some lawmakers, particularly Republicans, who could anger Second Amendment supporters.

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

Aides estimated the measure would cost around $15 billion, which Murphy said would be paid in full.

A final hurdle delaying the deal was removed: the law would ban romantic partners convicted of domestic violence who are not married to their victims from acquiring firearms. Convicted perpetrators who are married to, live with, or have had children with their victims are already banned from owning a gun.

The compromise bans guns for a person who has “a current or recent past dating relationship with the victim.” This is partially defined as between people “who are in, or have recently had, an ongoing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. “An offender’s ability to possess a gun could be restored after five years if he has not committed another serious crime.

In another late dispute, the law would provide $750 million for the 19 states and the District of Columbia that have “red flag” laws making it easier to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed dangerous , as well as for other states with violence prevention programs. States with “red flag” laws that receive the funds would need to provide legal action for the gun owner to challenge the removal of the firearm.

Momentum in Congress for gun legislation has faded quickly in the past following mass shootings in the past, and lawmakers are scheduled to begin a two-week hiatus on July 4 later this week.

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

But after 10 black shoppers were killed in Buffalo, New York last month, 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 Congress’ usual response to such horrors be – standstill.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the Democrats’ lead negotiator, said that after the Buffalo and Uvalde murders, “I saw a level of fear on the faces of the parents and the children I spoke to that I can’t remember.” never seen before.” He said his colleagues also encountered anxiety and fear from voters, “not just for the safety of their children, but for the government’s ability to rise to this moment and do something and to do something worthwhile”.

This bill, Murphy said, would “save thousands of lives.” Before he entered the Senate, his home district included Newtown, Connecticut, where a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 20 children and six staff members.

Top GOP negotiator Senator John Cornyn of Texas said of the pact, “Some think it goes too far, some think it doesn’t go far enough. And I understand. That’s the nature of compromise.”

But he added: “I believe that the same people who are telling us to do something are sending us a clear message that we must do what we can to protect our children and communities. I am confident that this legislation will move us in a positive direction.”

Momentum in Congress for gun legislation has faded quickly in the past following mass shootings in the past, and lawmakers are scheduled to begin a two-week hiatus on July 4 later this week.

In a positive sign of his fate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voiced his support, calling it “a sensible package of popular steps that will help make these horrific incidents less likely, while the right-wing.” of the Second Amendment shall be fully upheld-loyal citizens.”

The National Rifle Association, which has spent decades derailing gun control legislation, said it opposes the measure. “It falls short on all levels. It does little to truly address violent crime, while opening the door to unnecessary burdens for law-abiding gun owners in exercising Second Amendment freedoms,” the gun lobby group said.

It seemed likely that a majority of Republicans — particularly in the House of Representatives — would oppose the legislation.

Delegates underscored the backlash GOP lawmakers who support the pact would face from the most conservative of voters, and booed Cornyn at his state’s Republican convention in Houston on Saturday as he described the measure.

In another measure of conservative sentiment, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a potential Republican presidential nominee for 2024, tweeted that the bill “ignores the national crime wave and instead neglects the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens.” Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, another possible White House hopeful, 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 requires at least 10 GOP votes to reach the 60-vote threshold that large bills often require in the 50-50 Senate. Ten Republican senators had partnered with ten Democrats to support the framework, and Cornyn told reporters that “I think there will be at least” ten GOP votes for the measure.

It is uncertain whether the accord and its passage would mark the beginning of slow but gradual action by Congress to curb gun violence, or whether the issue will reach a high-water mark. By Buffalo and Uvalde, a stunning parade of mass killings – in places like elementary and high schools, houses of worship, military installations, bars and the Las Vegas Strip – has only resulted in a stalemate in Washington.

“Thirty years, murder after murder, suicide after suicide, mass shooting upon mass shooting, Congress has done nothing,” Murphy said. “This week we have a chance to break that 30-year silence with a bill that will change our laws in a way that will save thousands of lives.”

For the first time, the bill would require federal background checks for gun buyers ages 18 to 20 to include screening of the buyer’s juvenile record. This additional intelligence gathering could extend the current three-day background check limit by up to seven more days.

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

Hundreds of millions of dollars would be allocated to expand community behavioral health centers, telemedicine visits for psychiatric specialists and training first responders to deal with people with mental health problems. More than $2 billion would be allocated to recruit and train mental health services staff in schools, including $300 million to improve school safety.

Congress banned assault firearms in 1993 in a ban that expired after a decade, the legislature’s last sweeping piece of legislation to combat gun violence.

The Democrat-led House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure shortly after receiving Senate approval.

RELATED: McConnell backs Senate bipartisan gun deal: ‘One step forward’ Senate gun violence bill: Senators near agreement on compromise

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