WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate talks announced a bipartisan structure on Sunday in response to last month’s mass shootings, a modest breakthrough that offers dimensional gun borders and intensified efforts to improve school security and mental health programs.
The proposal does not correspond to the tougher steps long sought by President Joe Biden and many Democrats. However, if the agreement leads to legislation, it will be a signal of a turnaround from years of gunfire that has brought Congress to a standstill.
Leaders hope to quickly bring any agreement into law – they hope this month – before the political momentum dies down caused by the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New Yorkand Uwalde, Texas.
A significant event was that 20 senators, including 10 Republicans, issued a statement calling for adoption. This is potentially important because the biggest hurdle to taking action is probably the 50-50 Senate, where at least 10 Republican votes will be needed to reach the usual 60-vote threshold for approval.
“Families are afraid, and it is our duty to come together and do something that will help restore their sense of security and safety in their community,” lawmakers said.
The compromise will make records of underage gun buyers under the age of 21 available when they pass inspection. The suspects in the murder of 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo and 19 students and two primary school teachers in Uwalde were 18 years old, and many of the attackers who have carried out mass shootings in recent years were young.
The agreement will offer money to states to enforce red flag laws that facilitate the temporary seizure of weapons from people considered potentially violent, as well as to strengthen school security and mental health programs.
And it will take other steps, including requiring more people who sell guns to get licenses from federal dealers, which means they will have to inspect buyers.
In a statement, Biden said the framework “does not do everything I deem necessary, but it reflects important steps in the right direction and will be the most significant gun security legislation to be passed by Congress in decades.”
Given the support of the two parties, “there are no excuses for the delay and there is no reason why it should not pass quickly through the Senate and House of Representatives,” he said.
The announcement highlights the pressure in the election year that both parties felt after 10 black people were killed at a grocery store in Buffalo and 19 students and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uwald. The massacres sparked two weeks of closed-door talks between groups of senators led by Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., John Cornin, Texas, Tom Tillis, North Carolina, and Kristen Cinema of Arizona.
The agreement is a compromise with the lowest common denominator on gun violence, not a complete change in Congress. This is happening to lawmakers who are determined to show that they are responding to voter disgust with Buffalo and Uwalde, but Republicans are still blocking the broader steps Democrats want.
These include banning assault firearms, such as AR-15-style rifles used in Buffalo and Uwalde, or raising the legal age for their purchase. The AR-15 is a popular and powerful semi-automatic weapon that can fire at large stores and has been used in many of the country’s most high-profile killings in recent years. One, the murder of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, occurred six years ago on Sunday.
Democrats also wanted to ban high-capacity magazines and expand the necessary checks to a much larger number of gun purchases. None of these proposals have a chance in Congress.
Written by Alan Fram