By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, announced on Sunday they’d reached an agreement on new federal gun control legislation.
“The tragedies in Uvalde and elsewhere cried out for action,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. Cornyn co-led the bipartisan group with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
“I worked closely with my colleagues to find an agreement to protect our communities from violence while also protecting law-abiding Texans’ right to bear arms,” Sen. Cornyn added.
The group reached a “breakthrough agreement on gun violence – the first in 30 years – that will save lives. I think you’ll be surprised at the scope of our framework,” Sen. Murphy said.
Joining Sen. Cornyn were Republican Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
Ten Republicans joining Democrats would prevent a filibuster from taking place in the 50-50 Senate.
“Today, we are announcing a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” they said in a joint statement. “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.
“Our plan increases needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can’t purchase weapons. Most importantly, 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 proposal would require an enhanced background check for gun buyers under age 21 and implement “a short pause to conduct the check. Young buyers can get the gun only after the enhanced check is completed,” Sen. Murphy said.
It provides clarification on who needs to register as a licensed gun dealer, to ensure “all truly commercial sellers are doing background checks,” he added.
Their proposal provides “major funding to help states pass and implement crisis intervention orders (red flag laws) that will allow law enforcement to temporarily take dangerous weapons away from people who pose a danger to others or themselves,” Sen. Murphy said.
The joint announcement doesn’t mention “red flag laws.” Instead, it says their plan supports state crisis intervention orders. It “provides resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections,” according to the statement.
Their plan also proposes new funding for mental health and school safety, and a national buildout of community mental health clinics. It also closes the “‘boyfriend loophole,’ so that no domestic abuser – a spouse or a serious dating partner – can buy a gun if they are convicted of abuse against their partner.”
It doesn’t appear to include a ban on semiautomatic rifles or limit the number of bullets magazines can hold, proposals Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have called for.
The leaders of the Senate expressed support for the plan.
Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “Congress is on the path to take meaningful action to address gun violence,” and said the Senate should move to pass the legislation.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said, “I appreciate their hard work on this important issue. The principles they announced today show the value of dialogue and cooperation.”
The Major Cities Chiefs Association released a statement saying it was “greatly encouraged by the bipartisan firearms policy” and the “Common sense reforms included in the framework will help save lives.” It represents 79 chiefs, commissioners and sheriffs representing the largest cities in the U.S.
The National Rifle Association posted a video of its members, including minors and minorities, expressing their support for responsible gun ownership. It also reiterated the fact that “An NRA member has never committed a mass shooting.”
In response to the senators’ proposal, it said it is “committed to real solutions to help stop violence in our communities. We encourage our elected officials to provide more resources to secure our schools, fix our severely broken mental health system and support law enforcement.
The NRA said it would not take a position on the “framework” but will do so after reviewing the full text of the bill that’s filed.
“NRA will continue to oppose any effort to insert gun control policies, initiatives that override constitutional due process protections & efforts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves/loved ones into this or any other legislation,” the association said.