A bipartisan group of senators announced Sunday a proposal to combat gun violence, stemming from a concerted effort on Capitol Hill to respond to a string of deadly mass shootings in the United States.
The framework, the result of talks led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Republican Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), includes some reforms on access to firearms and cracking down on illegal sales, along with funding for mental health and school security, and measures meant to protect victims of domestic violence.
“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,” a group of 20 senators said in a press 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.” The group is currently made up of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
The legislation includes a federal grant program that would help states enact “red flag” laws that would allow law enforcement to keep guns away from individuals deemed to be potential threats to themselves or others, Murphy explained in a Twitter thread. The proposal would also close the “boyfriend loophole,” a legal gap in the Violence Against Women Act that allowed unmarried partners convicted of domestic violence to buy or own firearms.
The legislation also included proposals referenced by Republican lawmakers, including “billions in new funding for mental health and school safety,” additional legislation dealing with straw purchases, and enhanced background checks for gun purchasers under the age of 21, Murphy said.
The proposal does not include other provisions favored by Democrats and gun control advocates, including raising the minimum age for purchasing certain weapons from 18 to 21.
“Today’s announcement of a bipartisan gun-safety framework is a good first step to ending the persistent inaction to the gun violence epidemic that has plagued our country and terrorized our children for far too long,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a press statement. “Once the text of this agreement is finalized, I will put this bill on the floor as soon as possible so that the Senate can act quickly to advance gun-safety legislation.”
The White House also praised the proposal.
“I want to thank Senator Chris Murphy and the members of his bipartisan group — especially Senators Cornyn, Sinema, and Tillis — for their tireless work to produce this proposal,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “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.”
The framework arrives nearly three weeks after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed, and a shooting at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in which 10 people were killed.
The House passed sweeping gun reform legislation on Wednesday, but that proposal faces a steeper challenge in the evenly divided Senate thanks to the filibuster.