Bipartisan Group Of Senators Announces Agreeement On A Gun Safety Framework

Politico reports, Senators strike bipartisan gun safety agreement:

A group of 20 senators struck a bipartisan gun safety framework on Sunday, marking a significant breakthrough in Congress’ attempts to address recent back-to-back mass shootings.

In a Sunday morning statement, 10 senators in each party announced support for the deal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blessed it, vowing to “put this bill on the floor as soon as possible,” and President Joe Biden said it “would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.” The president urged both chambers of Congress to finish the package quickly.

The emerging package is anchored around extra scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21, grants to states to implement so-called red flag laws and new spending on mental health treatment and school security. While translating the agreement into legislation will take time, the large group of supportive senators shows that the package could gain 60 votes on the Senate floor before heading to the House.

“Our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense proposal into law,” the 20 senators said in their statement.

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) are the lead negotiators on the proposal. The most significant piece of the proposal would subject gun buyers 21 and younger to scrutiny of their criminal and mental health records as juveniles. It’s proved tricky to write because each state has different laws governing juvenile records.

A broader bipartisan group has held its own regular meetings on guns over the past three weeks since the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. And with Democrats controlling only 50 Senate seats, the approval of 10 Republicans is critical to moving forward.

In addition to the core four negotiators, the legislation is backed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Portman, Toomey, Blunt and Burr are all retiring at the end of the year.

“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,” the 20 senators said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement welcoming the announcement as proof of “the value of dialogue and cooperation,” though he sidestepped a direct endorsement of the framework: “I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country.”

The “Grim Reaper of Democracy” should never be trusted on common sense gun safety legislation. See, Inside Mitch McConnell’s decades-long effort to block gun control:

McConnell [has] followed a similar playbook time and time again during his seven terms in Congress, offering vague promises of action, often without any specifics, only to be followed by no action or incremental measures that avoided new gun regulations. As a Republican leader, he also helped dissuade his conference — as after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — from supporting gun legislation and, as majority leader, refused to bring up significant gun-control measures for a vote.

In addition to provisions on red flag laws, which allow law enforcement to seek temporary removal of firearms from an individual who is a threat to himself or others, the package also would close what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole” by broadening firearms restrictions on those who have abused their romantic partners.

The package also aims to crack down on straw purchasers and illegal unlicensed firearms dealers, according to a summary of the agreement.

The emerging framework comes nearly three weeks after 19 children and two teachers died in the Uvalde shooting. The killings in Texas occurred roughly a week after a racist mass shooter killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. March for Our Lives, a gun safety group founded after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., held nationwide demonstrations on Saturday urging Congress to address gun violence.

“Each day that passes, more children are killed in this country: the sooner it comes to my desk, the sooner I can sign it, and the sooner we can use these measures to save lives,” Biden said Sunday.

While Sunday’s announcement is a major breakthrough, translating a framework into an actual bill often proves challenging. During last year’s bipartisan infrastructure negotiations, for example, more than six weeks passed between negotiators’ announcement of a framework and Senate passage of the resulting bill. And a GOP aide involved in the negotiations stressed that Sunday’s agreement was an “agreement on principles, not legislative text.”

“The details will be critical for Republicans, particularly the firearms-related provisions,” the aide warned. “One or more of these principles could be dropped if text is not agreed to.”

While the nascent framework is modest compared to Democrats’ long-running push for expanded background checks, it could result in a high-water mark for GOP support for any level of gun restrictions. And at the moment, it’s the closest the chamber’s been to a broader gun safety deal since 2013, when Manchin and Toomey wrote bipartisan legislation in response to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“After an unrelenting wave of gun-related suicides and homicides, including mass shootings, the Senate is poised to act on commonsense reforms to protect Americans where they live, where they shop, and where they learn. We must move swiftly to advance this legislation because if a single life can be saved it is worth the effort,” Schumer said in his statement on Sunday.

Most Republicans and a handful of Democrats blocked the Manchin-Toomey legislation. And while the Senate tried again in 2019 to reach a deal after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, then-President Donald Trump disengaged amid the House impeachment inquiry. The most significant recent new gun law came from Murphy and Cornyn, which strengthened the background check system.

This time around, Democrats would have preferred to expand background checks to more prospective gun buyers and ban assault rifles, though those moves lack the necessary support among Republicans. A handful of Republicans are supportive of raising the age to purchase assault rifles to 21, something McConnell has expressed personal openness to, but neither McConnell nor Cornyn have pushed that as part of the package, and the idea may not get the 60 votes needed to survive a GOP filibuster.

Given those challenging dynamics, Senate Democratic leaders are willing to take a more modest deal than the sweeping restrictions most in Biden’s party support.

Any legislation on the Senate floor may be subject to amendments, provided the bipartisan group can complete legislative text and lock in the 60 votes needed to start debate. After two more weeks in session, Congress is currently scheduled to take a two-week break on June 24.

And after their July 4th recess, they will take an August recess, coming back after Labor Day in September. There is only a very narrow window of opportunity to pass this yet-to-be-finalized bill before the August recess. If it doesn’t pass before then, it is never going to happen, again.

7 thoughts on “Bipartisan Group Of Senators Announces Agreeement On A Gun Safety Framework”

  1. Don’t fret – any measure that doesn’t involve lionizing mass killers and the NRA will be buried by McConnell, Cruz, et. al.

    And they’ll be aided and abetted by a thoroughly sanctimonious Manchin and Sinema.

    Who’ll then move for a recess so that they can visit their banks.

  2. Instead of dancing around the issue the best course of action would be to reinstate the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Unfortunately we’re stuck with appeasing the Repug NRA servants with half, make that quarter, measures. Democrats still chasing the bipartisanship fairy certainly doesn’t help. Whose bright idea was it to put Sinema on the negotiating team? Not to mention being blessed by go along to get along Schumer.

    This just allows Repugs and Conservadems to sanctimoniously declare that they did something about guns during an election cycle. A more prudent move would have been to reinstate the AW Ban and hang the no votes around the necks of those who oppose it. “Republicans value universal access to deadly assault weapons over your child’s life”.

    • Yeah, everyone knows the best way to stop or dramatically reduce the massacres is to re-instate the Assault Weapons Ban.

      But as it is the nature of the Democrats to not take on the right wing despite
      the will of the people, their approach to gun safety is to focus on the gun handler and not the gun. So they’ll throw money at the states and see what they can do with red flag laws and mental health clinics.

      If this passes, both Democrats and Republicans will congratulate themselves for doing something, but Democrats will sell it as a good start and Republicans will sell it as the final solution. They’ll go no further.

      Neither side has the will or determination to re-instate the Assault Weapons Ban and I don’t think it matters to them how many children die or how many children are traumatized by the ever looming threat of a shooter. And it’s not just children they should be concerned about. It’s all of us, these massacres can occur and have already occurred almost anywhere.

      • “If this passes, both Democrats and Republicans will congratulate themselves for doing something, but Democrats will sell it as a good start and Republicans will sell it as the final solution. They’ll go no further.”

        Lather, Rinse, Repeat. One has to wonder how many times they think they can get away with this.

      • As usual Charles Pierce knocks it out of the park:

        "A bipartisan group of senators announced Sunday that it had reached a tentative agreement on legislation that would pair modest new gun restrictions with significant new mental health and school security investments — a deal that could put Congress on a path to enacting the most significant national response in decades to acts of mass gun violence.

        It could do that. It could also provide a lake of stew, and of whiskey, too, that you can paddle around in a big canoe. Even assuming that the plan passes the Senate at all, which is still not a mortal lock, to assume that this is some sort of stepping-stone toward more toothsome gun control regulations seems to be wildly optimistic. Remember those heady days when the Affordable Care Act was supposed to put us all on the road to universal healthcare and Medicare For All? All that’s actually happened is that the ACA has been fighting for its own life ever since. Republican governors even refused the FREE MONEY!!! available to them to expand Medicaid coverage, and then they bragged about it. Keep that part of the story in mind as we go along here.

        I do not in any way mean to disparage the hard work done by Senator Chris Murphy and the others to pry the agreement they got out of the Republican morass that is the Senate minority caucus. The provisions of the bill are certainly helpful with regard to a number of the country’s problems. The difficulty comes when one realizes that one of the problems being addressed is decidedly not Too Many Damn Guns, and also, that there are a number of self-destruct mechanisms built in to the agreement.

        Under the tentative deal, a federal grant program would encourage states to implement red-flag laws that allow authorities to keep guns away from people found by a judge to represent a potential threat to themselves or others, while federal criminal background checks for gun buyers younger than 21 would include a mandatory search of juvenile justice and mental health records for the first time.

        Other provisions would prevent gun sales to a broader group of domestic violence offenders, closing what is often called the “boyfriend loophole”; clarify which gun sellers are required to register as federal firearms dealers and, thus, run background checks on customers; and establish new federal offenses related to gun trafficking.

        I trust that I don’t have to explain the problem with a program to “encourage” states to do things, especially when those states are run by conservative Republican governors and conservative Republican legislatures. Generally, history tells us, this money, assuming the state even accepts it, ends up in the general budget, and/or someone’s cousin’s concrete and asphalt business. Hell, just light that money on fire on Main Street and shoot it full of holes.

        However, this pale pastel of a framework is the only kind of bill with a ghost of a chance of bringing along 10 Republicans in the Senate. And even so, the flying monkeys went predictably ballistic. Rep. Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician who claimed the former president* was the Slenderman, leaped to the electric Twitter machine to lose most of his shit.

        I WILL NOT support the horrendous anti 2nd Amendment bill that’s being proposed in the Senate. It’s AWFUL! This is a MASSIVE violation of your Constitutional rights, and it MUST be rejected!

        Rep. Andy Biggs chimed in with the customary paranoia:

        The House’s recently passed gun control legislation would not have prevented the Uvalde or Buffalo mass shootings. This legislation is part of a broader goal to take all of our guns and erode the Second Amendment.

        And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene gabble-gooble-red-flags-gobble:

        There should be ZERO votes for red flag laws in the @HouseGOP. Stop helping Joe Biden and the Democrats hurt Americans. The people will not forget.

        And so on.

        I hope the thing passes. But I’m not going to fall for the alleged magical powers of the word “bipartisan” to turn chickenshit into chicken salad. This is a good start in the same way that making sure your shoes are tied is a good start to a marathon.”

        • The goal here is clearly not to stop the massacres.

          The goal is to pass something that looks like a gun safety bill that will take years for the states to implement new laws, build mental health clinics etc… and collect enough data to determine the effectiveness. And that is assuming they legislate anything.

          I think Sen. Chris Murphy has the best of intentions and this may very well be the best he can do with a corrupted and dysfunctional Senate.


    • Not like no one could see this coming, the Repugs led by Cornyn, are now backing away and saying they won’t vote for it. Excuse is the red flag law and not allowing domestic violence abusers access to firearms. Which during negotiations they agreed to.

      So, as usual the Democrats allowed themselves to get rolled by bad faith Repugs. All in the name of chasing that bi-partisanship fairy.

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