A bipartisan group of 20 Senators, including 10 Republicans, has reached an agreement on new gun control measures.
The new gun control proposals include incentives for states to pass so-called “Red Flag” laws, increased investments in school safety programs and a longer review process for adults under the age of 21 who are purchasing firearms.
“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,” the group of Senators said in a joint statement on Sunday. 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 plan comes short of proposals support by President Joe Biden to either outright ban certain semiautomatic rifles or to raise the minimum age to purchase them from to 21. The Senate proposal instead imposes what it calls an “Enhanced Review Process” for gun buyers under 21 that requires an investigative period to review a potential buyer’s juvenile and mental health records.
“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.”
In addition to the longer review process for buyers under 21, the Senate proposal also calls for an incentive for states and tribal authorities to pass laws allowing authorities to seize firearms from individuals whom a court determines pose a danger to themselves or others.
The proposal is supported by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Angus King — an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats.
The proposal is also supported by John Cornyn (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
The support of the 10 Republican senators means the proposal stands a strong likelihood of passing if all Democrats and independents also back the proposal.
In addition to the incentives for states to pass “Red Flag” laws and longer reviews for gun buyers under the age of 21, the proposal also describes more support for mental health resources, more funding for school safety resources, more strictly defines federal firearms licensing requirement, and “cracks down” on people who straw purchase and traffic guns.
It is unclear from the minimal language of the proposal, whether the increased resources for school safety could include providing armed security or arming and training staff at schools.
The proposal does not include a magazine capacity limit despite Biden’s calls for a ban on so-called “high-capacity” magazines.
“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 White House statement on Sunday. “With bipartisan support, there are no excuses for delay, and no reason why it should not quickly move through the Senate and the House. 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.”
The actual language of the gun control proposal has yet to be finalized.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said once the bill’s language is finalized, he will bring it to the Senate floor “as soon as possible so the Senate can act quickly.”