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Capitol Hill Politics

Senate negotiators enter framework agreement on bipartisan gun package

Capitol Hill during the cherry blossom season. Original image from Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

WASHINGTON (Transatlantic Today) — A framework deal on new gun regulation was unveiled by key senators on Sunday, signaling a breakthrough on a set of measures to reduce gun crime, including “red flag” rules and stricter background checks for gun buyers. 

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, an ardent Second Amendment supporter, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., an outspoken advocate of gun safety legislation who has vowed that the new regulations will not harm law-abiding Americans’ gun rights. According to NBC NEWS, the final bill has yet to be written. 

Unlike a series of gun-control laws enacted by the House last week, the Senate agreement has the backing of significant Republicans, who hold effective veto rights over gun laws in the Senate due to the 60-vote filibuster rule. Ten Republicans and ten Democrats signed a joint statement in support of the agreement. 

The Senate agreement includes significant funding for states to establish “red flag” laws, which allow persons such as police officers or family members to appeal courts to keep guns away from people who are judged a danger to themselves or others. 

Red flag laws are now in effect in the District of Columbia and 19 states. The new measures aim to boost that number while also enhancing execution. 

The agreement also creates a more stringent background check process for people aged 18 to 21, with an improved evaluation that includes contacting local and state law enforcement for any criminal records that may be disqualifying, as well as appropriate state organizations for any mental health information that may influence the decision. 

The plan also aims to clear up any confusion about who needs to register as a federally registered weapon dealer in order to conduct background investigations. 

To better prosecute gun traffickers, it imposes increased penalties on straw purchases of weapons. It also provides more funding for school safety and mental health programmes. 

According to people involved with the talks, the accord would also contain a clause to close the so-called boyfriend loophole on domestic abuse. 

“Pleased that, for the first time in nearly 30 years, Congress is on the path to taking meaningful action to address gun violence,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

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