WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate bargainers on Tuesday settled on a bipartisan gun violence bill, potentially leading to final passage by the end of the week on an incremental but historic package that will address mass shootings in Texas and New York. Will stand as a reaction of Congress which shook the country .
The 80-page bill was released nine days after lawmakers agreed a framework for the plan and 29 years after Congress last banned large firearms. It cleared the initial procedural hurdle 64-34, with 14 Republicans all 48 Democrats and two allied independents voting yes.
It strongly supported a prediction of approval later this week by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y. Can be passed by the Democratic-led House.
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Although Republicans blocked tougher sanctions demanded by Democrats, the agreement marks an election-year success on an issue that pits the GOP’s staunch gun-owning and rural voters against Democrats’ urban-focused firearms supporters. does.
This makes it one of the most incendiary culture battlefields in politics and a sensitive vote for some lawmakers, especially Republicans who may alienate Second Amendment veterans.
The law would toughen background checks for the youngest firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks and penalize gun smugglers.
It will also distribute funds to states and communities to improve school safety and mental health initiatives.
Allies estimated the measure would cost about $15 billion, which Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, the leading Democratic bargainer, said would be fully paid for.
Addressing a final hurdle that has delayed the settlement, the bill would prevent romantic partners convicted of domestic violence and their victims from receiving firearms if they are not married.
Convicted abusers who are married, live with, or have children with their victims are barred from possessing guns already in their possession.
The agreement prohibits guns to a person who “has a current or recent prior dating relationship with the victim.” It is defined as a run between “people who have had a recent romantic or Has or has had a serious relationship of an intimate nature. ,
A criminal’s ability to own a gun can be restored after five years if he has not committed a more serious offence.
On another late controversy, the bill would provide $750 million to 19 states and the District of Columbia, which have “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily take firearms from dangerous people, and violence prevention programs in other states. with.
States with “red flag” laws that have received funding will have to put in place legal procedures for the gun owner to fight the removal of firearms.
The momentum in Congress for gun legislation has a history of rapidly declining after mass shootings. By the end of this week, the two-week holiday of 4th of July for MPs is going to start.
The legislation lacks the far more powerful proposals that President Joe Biden supports and that Democrats have pushed unsuccessfully for years, derailed by the GOP opposition. These include banning assault-type weapons or raising the minimum age to purchase them, prohibiting high-capacity magazines, and requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales.
Yet after the killing of 10 black shopkeepers in Buffalo, New York last month, and the deaths of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and some Republicans decided that this time, the measured move would be Congress’s act of horror. The general response was better. – Gridlock.
Murphy said that after Buffalo and Uvalde, “I saw a level of fear on the faces of parents and children that I had never seen before.”
He said his allies also faced concern among voters “not only for the safety of their children, but also about the government’s ability to rise to this moment and do something and do something meaningful.”
This bill, Murphy said, “will save thousands of lives.” Before entering the Senate, his House district included Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six staff members were killed in a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
John Cornyn, Texas’ top GOP bargain bargainer, said of the agreement, “Some people think it goes far enough, others think it doesn’t go very far. And I get it. That’s the nature of the compromise.” “
But he continued, “I believe the same people who are asking us to do something are sending us a clear message that we do what we can to keep our children and communities safe. Me. I am sure this law will take us in a positive direction.”
In a positive sign about his fate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voiced his support, calling it “a general package of popular steps that will help reduce these horrific incidents, while legislation while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of the – living citizens.”
The National Rifle Association, which has derailed gun control legislation for decades, expressed protest. “It falls short on every level. It does little to really address violent crime while opening the door for unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment liberties by law-abiding gun owners,” the gun lobby group said. Told.
It seemed as though most Republicans – especially those in the House – would oppose the legislation.
Underscoring the backlash from GOP lawmakers who support the agreement will be faced by the hardest-hit voters, delegates booed Cornyn at his state’s Republican convention in Houston on Saturday as he described the proposal.
In another measure of conservative sentiment, potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted that the bill “ignores the national crime wave and chips away at the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens instead.” ” Tom Cotton, R-Ark, a potential White House contender, said it would “restrict the freedoms of law-abiding Americans and put too much power in the hands of politicians and political officials.”
The measure would require at least 10 GOP votes to reach the 50-50 Senate, often the required 60-vote threshold. Cornyn told reporters he expected at least 10 GOP votes for the measure.
What is uncertain is whether the route will mark the beginning of slow but gradual action to curb gun violence, or the high water mark on the issue. As far as Buffalo and Uvalde, a numbing parade of mass killings — at sites including elementary and high schools, houses of worship, military facilities, bars and the Las Vegas Strip — has only led to a standoff in Washington.
“Thirty years, murder after murder, suicide after suicide, mass shooting after mass shooting, Congress has done nothing,” Murphy said. “This week we have a chance to break this 30-year silence with a bill that changes our laws in a way that will save thousands of lives.”
The bill would require that federal background checks for gun buyers aged 18 to 20 include checking the purchaser’s juvenile records. This could add seven more days to the current three-day limit on background checks.
The suspects in the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings were 18 years old, a profile that matches that of many recent mass shooters.
There will be hundreds of millions of dollars to expand community behavioral health centers, telemedicine visits to mental specialists, and train first responders to handle people with mental health issues. More than $2 billion will be provided to hire and train staff for school mental health services, including $300 million to improve school safety.
Congress banned assault-type firearms in 1993, ending a decade later, with lawmakers making the last comprehensive legislation addressing gun violence.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
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