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US Senator reaches a bipartisan deal on gun reform

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By Shella Artillero - - 5 Mins Read

Following mass shootings in Texas and New York, a bipartisan group of US senators has recommended actions to reduce gun violence, but the limited proposals fall far short of President Joe Biden's pleas for reform.

Last month's massacres - one at a Texas elementary school that murdered 19 young children and two instructors, and another at a New York supermarket that killed ten black people – have increased political pressure to act.

Republicans, who have consistently rejected stricter legislation, continue to oppose major changes to gun controls, blaming the problem on mental health issues. However, the new framework has at least ten Republican supporters, indicating that it has a good chance of gaining the 60 votes needed to advance in the 100-seat US Senate.

The amendments include stricter background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, more funding for states to keep weapons out of the hands of persons deemed a danger, and the inclusion of domestic violence convictions and restraining orders in the national background check database.


“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,” the group of 20 legislators said in a statement.

“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.”

Mr. Biden commended the plans and urged lawmakers to rapidly pass them into law, while also stating that they are insufficient.

"Obviously, it does not go far enough, but it represents key steps in the right way, and it would be the most substantial gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades," he said. "With bipartisan backing, there are no excuses for delay, and there is no reason why it shouldn't proceed through the Senate and House soon."

The Senate's top Democrat and Republican, Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, both indicated support for the bipartisan effort, indicating that legislation based on the measures may pass the upper chamber.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, pledged to put the agreement up for a vote once the legislation had been completed.

Mr. Biden had campaigned for more comprehensive reforms, including as a ban on assault rifles – which were used in both massacres – or at the very least, raising the age at which they may be acquired.

He also called on Congress to outlaw high-capacity magazines, mandate safe gun storage, and hold gun manufacturers accountable for crimes committed with their goods.

This month, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives enacted a broad package of reforms, including raising the age of purchase for most semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21. However, the party lacks the required 60 votes in the Senate, leaving the bipartisan agreement as the sole option for federal legislation to curb gun violence.

While more is needed, such as universal background checks and restrictions on high-capacity magazines, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the Senate deal, stating that "this package will take efforts to save lives."

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a longtime champion of gun reform legislation, helped lead the discussions.

Frequent mass shootings have sparked enormous anger in the United States, where the majority of people support stricter gun legislation, but serious changes have long been hampered by Republican legislators and voters.

The National Rifle Association, which has been damaged by scandals and is facing a lawsuit from New York State's Attorney-General, is a staunch opponent of stronger legislation.

“The media, leftist politicians, and gun-hating activists are bullying NRA members and gun owners because they want us to give up. We won’t bend a knee,” the lobby tweeted on Saturday.


Thousands of people flocked to the streets across the United States on that day to demand action against gun violence, which has claimed the lives of over 19,400 people in the country so far this year, with more than half of the deaths being suicides.

"A minority is subverting the will of the American people," Cynthia Martins, 63, said at the rally in Washington. "Wringing your hands isn't going to help; you need to speak up."

Given these difficult circumstances, Senate Democratic leaders are willing to accept a more modest compromise than the wide restrictions that the majority of Biden's supporters demand.

Any bill on the Senate floor could be amended if a bipartisan group can finalize the legislative language and secure the 60 votes needed to begin debate. Congress is now set to take a two-week recess on June 24 after two more weeks in session.

READ: Recent Mass Shootings in US History