Gun reform deal reached in Senate with major Republican support

  • Biden hails the deal as a step in the right direction
  • The Deal After Texas School Massacre, Buffalo Shooting

WASHINGTON, June 12 (Reuters) – In a potential breakthrough toward the first significant new U.S. law in decades, a bipartisan group of senators announced on Sunday agreement on a framework for a firearms safety bill with enough Republican support to advance. in a narrow range. A divided Senate.

The plan, praised by President Joe Biden, includes support for state “red flag” laws that ban firearms from potentially dangerous people, stricter criminal background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, and a crackdown on “straw purchases” by People who buy weapons for others who cannot pass a background check.

The framework was put in place in the wake of last month’s massacres at an elementary school in Ovaldi, Texas and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and is far less ambitious than proposals by Biden and other Democrats to ban assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles. High-capacity magazines or at least raise the minimum age to buy those magazines from 18 to 21.

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Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who led the negotiating effort alongside Republican Senator John Cornyn, said “the heavy lifting is behind us” after three weeks of intense talks, although there is still “a great deal of work.” Murphy said he hopes to pass the Senate by early August or sooner.

“We will start writing (legislative) text first thing (Monday),” Murphy told Reuters.

The agreement was announced a day after tens of thousands rallied in Washington and around the United States to urge lawmakers to pass legislation to reduce gun violence. Read more

While the agreement is an important breakthrough, it does not guarantee approval of the legislation. Lawmakers still have to craft legislative language that can attract enough votes to pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives, both of which are controlled by Democrats.

The Republican opposition was instrumental in thwarting Democratic-backed gun control proposals in Congress dating back to the 1994 passage of an assault weapons embargo that expired a decade later.

The United States has the highest rate of gun deaths among the rich countries in the world. But it is a country in which gun rights are cherished by many, and the Second Amendment to its constitution protects the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Sunday’s announcement represented the furthest that gun reform talks have come in Congress since 2013, when Senate legislation failed in the wake of the 2012 Connecticut elementary school massacre. Murphy, who represents Connecticut, has dedicated much of his decade-long career Time in the Senate for gun control after that tragedy.

“Our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans,” Murphy and Cornyn said in a joint statement.

The group that approved the framework included 10 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one independent rallied with Democrats.

A spokesperson for the National Rifle Association said the influential firearms rights group will not take a position on the framework until the detailed legislative text is finalized. She said the NRA would oppose any effort to deny Americans their right to bear arms.

Gun-control advocates described Sunday’s announcement as evidence of the weakness of the Natural Resources Authority, a group closely allied with Republicans, amid growing public concerns about gun violence.

“There has been a conventional wisdom that politicians have convinced you can’t cross the NRA. Otherwise you’ll pay,” Christian Hein, vice president of policy for the Brady Arms Control Group, told Reuters.

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With 10 Republicans signaling support, it will overcome the Senate’s “stall” rule that requires 60 of the 100 senators to agree to push most legislation. Republicans opposed to the plan are expected to put up procedural hurdles to try to prevent it.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell declined to endorse the framework but said he hoped for progress in bipartisan talks.

Biden accepted Sunday’s deal.

“It doesn’t do everything I believe is necessary, but it does reflect important steps in the right direction, and it will be the most important gun safety legislation Congress has passed in decades,” Biden said in a statement. With bipartisan support, there are no excuses for delay, and no reason not to move quickly through the Senate and House of Representatives.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wants to move a bill quickly once legislative details are finalised. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also endorsed the deal, saying in a statement, “While more is needed, this package will take steps to save lives.”

This measure would provide federal funding to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws that keep firearms away from people the courts consider to be a significant danger to themselves or others.

Congress will provide more funding to expand mental health programs including those run in schools, and will crack down on those who evade gun licensing requirements or illegally purchase guns on behalf of others — transactions called “straw purchases.”

The plan will also require new government screenings for under-21s trying to purchase guns so that juvenile mental health records can be reviewed, along with screenings with state and local law enforcement agencies.

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(Reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago); Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone

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