By Jack Phillips
A bipartisan group of senators announced an agreement on gun control Sunday, including providing more resources for mental health needs, school safety, and more.
The announcement includes the support of 10 Republican senators, which is needed for the upper congressional chamber to overcome the legislative filibuster in the 50-50 senate. It was praised, notably, by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a longtime proponent of gun control measures.
In the statement, the group said its 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.”
Republicans who support the measure include Sens. Lindsey Graham, (S.C.), Mitt Romney (Utah), John Cornyn (Texas), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Pat Toomey (Pa.). Several Democrats also backed the measure, including Sens. Chris Murphy (Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Corey Booker (N.J.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Chris Coons (Del.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.). Sen. Angus King (I-Mich.) also signaled his support for the measure.
Murphy and Cornyn were both tapped by Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), respectively, to come to a deal following several high-profile mass shootings in recent weeks. The Republicans who announced their support for the measure will likely face blowback from other GOP lawmakers and some of their constituents.
The plan calls for an “enhanced review process” for younger gun buyers: “For buyers under 21 years of age, requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement,” according to their statement.
The bill will also provide support for state crisis intervention, protections for domestic violence victims, funding for school-based mental health and supportive services, investment in children and family mental health services, clarification of the definition of federally licensed firearms dealer, penalties for “straw purchasing” of guns, and telehealth investments.
There was no mention of more controversial provisions that have been proposed by some Democrats, including unilateral bans on semiautomatic rifles or bans on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. But the latest announcement suggests that it could provide resources for so-called “red flag” laws. Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have red flag laws on the books, which have been described as unconstitutional because they violate the Constitution’s Due Process Clause and give too much power to judges.
“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,” Murphy, Cornyn, and other senators said in a statement. “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.”
Schumer, in a statement, praised the deal and said that “Congress is on the path to take meaningful action to address gun violence,” without mentioning that some cities with significant gun control laws have some of the highest firearm-related homicide rates in the United States.
“After an unrelenting wave of gun-related suicides and homicides, including mass shootings, the Senate is poised to act on commonsense reforms to protect Americans where they live, where they shop, and where they learn,” he added. “We must move swiftly to advance this legislation because if a single life can be saved it is worth the effort.”