A bipartisan group of 20 senators struck a deal Sunday on gun control legislation, including strengthening background checks and boosting red flag laws—a major breakthrough following weeks of negotiations in the wake of two deadly shootings in Texas and New York.
The proposal—which hasn’t been written into legislative text yet—would provide funding to encourage states to pass red flag laws, which allow judges to temporarily take guns away from people deemed a risk to themselves or to others.
The agreement would also change the federal firearm background check system by including juvenile records for potential gun buyers under the age of 21, as well as records for people who were convicted of domestic violence offenses or subject to domestic violence restraining orders.
The senators agreed to clarify who needs a federal firearm license—which is a certification for gun dealers—and crack down on criminals who illegally traffic guns or buy them through third-party “straw purchasers.”
The proposal also includes investments in telehealth services, school-based mental health services and school safety resources—a priority for Republicans.
Some 10 Senate Republicans signed onto the agreement, along with 10 senators who caucus with Democrats, meaning the proposal will likely overcome the 60 votes needed to break the Senate’s filibuster if all Democrats support it.
President Joe Biden called for the Senate and the House to move quickly on passing the proposal, indicating he would sign it as soon as it came to his desk. “Obviously, it does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades,” Biden said in a statement.
The House passed its own package of gun control measures in a largely party-line vote last week, including raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, banning high-capacity magazines and establishing storage requirements for gun owners. The proposals are unlikely to garner enough support among Republicans to overcome the Senate filibuster.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to lead conversations with Democrats on bipartisan gun legislation last month, days after a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 students and two teachers dead. Cornyn, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have been the main negotiators, along with a larger group of senators. Biden has called for raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, renewing the federal assault weapons ban and repealing legislation that shields gunmakers from liability when their products are used in criminal acts, though those measures are not included in the senators’ agreement.
Senators look to announce initial agreement on guns as soon as Sunday (CNN)
House Passes Sweeping Gun Control Measures—But Senate Republicans Will Spike Plan (Forbes)
Biden Urges Congress To Ban Assault Weapons: ‘We Can’t Fail The American People Again’ (Forbes)
McConnell Asks Texas GOP Sen. Cornyn To Work On Bipartisan Gun Legislation After Uvalde Massacre (Forbes)