Senators have moved to the brink of an agreement on a bipartisan gun violence bill, Democrats’ lead negotiator said Tuesday, potentially teeing up votes this week on an incremental but notable package that would stand as Congress’s response to mass shootings in Texas and New York that shook the nation.
Nine days after Senate bargainers agreed to a framework proposal — and 29 years after Congress last enacted a major measure curbing firearms — Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told reporters that a final agreement on the proposal’s details was at hand.
The legislation lawmakers have been working toward would toughen background checks for the youngest firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks and beef up penalties on gun traffickers. It also would disburse money to states and communities aimed at improving school safety and mental health initiatives.
“I think we’ve reached agreement,” Murphy said. “And just we’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s right now. I think we’re in good shape.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the chief Republican bargainer, spoke on the Senate floor moments later and said he, Murphy and the other two top Senate bargainers had “reached agreement.”
NPR reports that the gun control expands background checks for gun buyers ages 18-20. The legislation also expands the prohibited buyers list by adding dating relationships under the domestic violence clause, thus closing the “boyfriend loophole” Democrats have been arguing against for years.
The legislation also contains financial incentives for states that agree to adopt red flag laws.
The NRA responded to the gun control by saying it “falls short at every level.”
They added, “This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, & use fed dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state & local politicians.”
The NRA noted, “This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overboard provisions — inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms.”
Senate Minority Leader McConnell offered his support for the bill after the text became available.
“I support the bill text that Senator Cornyn and our colleagues have produced,” McConnell said in a statement. “For years, the far left falsely claimed that Congress could only address the terrible issue of mass murders by trampling on law-abiding Americans’ constitutional rights. This bill proves that false. Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
In a statement, Schumer said, “I will now put this life-saving legislation on the Senate floor for a vote, with an initial procedural vote as soon as tonight and, following that, we will move to final passage as quickly as possible.”