The Senate voted Tuesday to advance the bipartisan gun bill, hoping to pass it before the July 4 recess.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act fails to meet more comprehensive proposals passed by House Democrats and is already meeting opposition from top House Republicans† Should it become law, however, the bill would be the most sweeping gun safety legislation passed by Congress in decades.
The chief negotiators of the bill – Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, RN.C. — released a joint statement celebrating the agreement.
“Today, we finalized a bipartisan, common sense legislation to protect American children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence in our country,” they said. “Our legislation will save lives and will not violate US Second Amendment law. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and enacting our common sense legislation into law.”
Here are some of the key provisions in the bill of 80 pages†
Funding for crisis centers and so-called red flag laws
Under the legislation, $750 million would be allocated over the next five years to help states implement red flag laws, which allow authorities to temporarily seize weapons from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others. (Similar laws already exist in 19 states and the District of Columbia.) Legislation permits execution of these programs through mental health, drug, and veterans courts.
Republicans involved in the negotiations urged to ensure that no one is flagged without “the right to a personal hearing, an unbiased judge, the right to hear evidence to the contrary, the right to present evidence, and the right to testify unfavorably.” confront”, as well as the right to have counsel appear in court.
“Under this bill, any state will be able to use significant new federal dollars to expand their programs to try to stop dangerous people, people who are contemplating mass murder or suicide, from accessing the weapons with which they can commit that crime,” he said. Murphy in a speech on the floor.
Closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’
While spouses, co-parents or cohabiting partners convicted of domestic violence have already been banned from buying firearms, abusers in relationships between people who are not married and who live separately can still buy guns, creating the so-called “boyfriend loophole”. the law’ arises. †According to Everytowna gun safety advocacy group, about 70 women are shot by an intimate partner every month.)
Under the new law, anyone convicted of domestic violence against a former or current dating partner may purchase a gun.
Republican negotiators pushed for a strict definition of who would qualify as a dating partner and how long they couldn’t buy a gun. The law also wouldn’t apply retroactively, meaning a person would have to be convicted of domestic violence after the law went into effect before he or she was deprived of the right to purchase a firearm.
“Unless someone is convicted of domestic violence under their state laws, their gun rights will not be affected,” Cornyn said in a speech on the floor.
“Those convicted of extramarital domestic violence — not a felony, but domestic violence — will have a chance to regain their Second Amendment rights after five years. But they must be in a clean state.”
Extensive background checks for younger buyers
The legislation calls for an extension of background checks to buyers under the age of 21, giving three business days to complete the investigation into their criminal and mental health histories. If that background check finds anything questionable in a potential buyer’s file, the law provides for an additional seven working days to investigate the buyer.
Mental Health and School Safety Funding
The bill provides funding to expand access to mental health services, including making it easier for Americans on Medicaid to use telehealth services and work with “community-oriented providers and organizations of mental health disorders and substance use.” ‘ And it would bring additional funding to the national suicide prevention hotline (since guns are good for) a majority of suicide deaths in 2020) while schools would receive funding to increase the number of staff members providing mental health services.
The bill also provides $300 million for the STOP School Violence Act to increase safety in schools, although some Democrats had expressed concerns about this aspect of the bill. Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y., said she was worried on “the extension of background checks to juvenile records,” arguing that previous attempts to secure schools were both ineffective and harmful.
After the 1998 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, Ocasio-Cortez said, “We’ve hired thousands of police officers in schools, and while it didn’t prevent many of the mass shootings we’ve seen now, it increased the criminalization of teens in communities like mine.”
Authorized dealers and arms trade
The legislation would also require more sellers to register as “federally licensed firearms dealers,” including anyone who sells guns to “mainly make a profit.” These sellers, in turn, should conduct background checks on potential buyers and keep track of sales.
The bill would also impose sanctions on “straw” buyers who buy weapons for people who fail a background check.
Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Getty Images, Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images