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A bipartisan group of senators yesterday announced it had reached a framework for enacting modest gun restrictions, such as closing loopholes and increasing background checks for gun purchases by people between 18 and 21.

It’s in response to a recent spate of mass shootings that included a massacre at a Texas elementary school.

If enacted and signed by President Joe Biden, the measure would become the most significant piece of firearms legislation produced by Congress in nearly three decades.

The group of 20 senators, led by Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced yesterday that they struck a deal “to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across the country.”

The proposal falls far short of the gun safety reforms Biden has lobbied Congress to pass and is far less sweeping than the comprehensive package that advanced the House last week but garnered the immediate support of anti-gun groups and the White House.

The framework would create an enhanced review process for firearm purchasers under the age of 21, including a pause to conduct a background check. Senators working on the proposal have focused considerable attention on the 18- to 21-year-old population, particularly those who showed signs of violence or mental health struggles as a juvenile but are able to purchase a gun at age 18 because their juvenile records are sealed.

 

The plan would require a background check for these purchasers, including a pause if more time is needed for investigators to dig through records. The gunmen in recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Parkland, Florida, were between 18 and 19 years old.

Another significant provision of the deal includes closing the so-called “boyfriend” loophole. It would prohibit anyone convicted of abuse against a spouse or domestic partner from buying a gun, a notable victory for advocates against domestic violence. The plan would also crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchases and create incentives for states to create “red flag” laws that would allow weapons to be temporarily taken away from people who show a risk of violence against themselves or others. And it would beef up school security and mental health care programs.

 

“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,” according to a joint statement issued by Murphy, Cornyn and 18 other senators.

“Our 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. Most importantly, our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Murphy praised the deal as a break in a 30-year logjam on the gun issue on Capitol Hill and a sign Republicans and Democrats can work together on the issue.

The deal still has hurdles remaining before it can get to Biden’s desk. The agreement has to be turned into legislative text and it needs to get the support of 60 senators in a floor vote. The State Now is the modern, digital connection to the traditional print experience.

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