A bipartisan group of U.S. senators reached a tentative agreement on a nine-point proposal to stem gun violence Sunday that includes enhanced background checks and state grants for red flag laws.
The blueprint for the potential legislation was announced by 20 senators — 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
President Joe Biden said the plan didn’t include everything Democrats wanted but did signal “important steps in the right direction and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that he supported the framework announced by the group, and that the bipartisan effort showed “the value of dialogue and cooperation.”
“I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate and makes a difference for our country,” McConnell said on Sunday.
The senators who announced the plan included the four who led the negotiations: Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, and the 16 others who worked on it or have publicly supported it: Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut; Roy Blunt, R-Missouri; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Richard Burr, R-North Carolina; Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Chris Coons, D-Delaware; Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico; Mark Kelly, D-Arizona; Angus King, I-Maine; Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania.
Here is what is in the plan:
1. Red flag incentives
The proposal includes providing states and Native American tribes with resources to create and maintain so-called red flag measures which empower courts to — for a limited time — take guns away from people determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.
Red flag laws would be consistent with state and federal due process and protections.
2. Enhanced background checks
The plan calls for an enhanced background check reviewing any juvenile criminal or mental health records for gun buyers younger than 21 years old.
The check would include reviews of state databases and local law enforcement.
3. Enhanced penalties for straw purchases
The plan calls for an increase in penalties for those who illegally straw purchase and traffic firearms. A straw purchase is one where a person buys a weapon for someone who is not legally allowed to purchase one.
4. Mental health services
The plan would increase funding for mental health and suicide prevention programs. Included in the funding would be money for crisis and trauma intervention and recovery services.
5. Telehealth investments
Additional funding would cover mental health services via telehealth programs.
6. Definition of a licensed dealer
Another part of the potential legislation is a clearer definition of a federal firearms dealer.
7. Protections for victims of domestic violence
Convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders would be required to undergo a criminal background check before purchasing a weapon.
8. Funding for school safety resources
The plan would include money for programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.
9. Funding for school-based mental health and supportive services
According to the statement released by the senators, the plan “Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs and school based mental health and wrap-around services.”
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