Bipartisan Senate group reaches outline of minimal gun control agreement

Washington, Jun 12 (EFE).- A group of Democratic and Republican US Senators on Sunday announced reaching the outline of a narrow agreement to increase gun safety measures nationwide by proposing minimal measures after mass shootings at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket and a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

In a statement, the bipartisan group of 10 Democratic and 10 GOP lawmakers said that the outline of the accord – which has not yet been finalized – includes doing background checks on prospective gun purchasers under age 21.

The shooters in the Buffalo and Uvalde massacres, which took a total of 29 lives and wounded many more, were both 18 years old.

The outline of the plan also includes funding for more mental health resources, increasing school safety measures and grants for states to extend nationwide so-called “red flag” laws – currently on the books in states like California, New York and Florida – that allow authorities to confiscate guns from people deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

A key element of the plan deals with the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to prohibit both spouses and dating partners from owning guns after being convicted of domestic violence or while subject to domestic violence restraining orders, with both of these things being included on background checks.

Although the outline is nowhere near the significant set of gun control reforms – including a ban on assault rifles – pushed by President Joe Biden, most Democratic legislators and gun control activists, it is something that appears to have enough support from Republicans, who have derailed gun control measures in Congress for decades, to get 60 votes, overcoming the filibuster and thus pass in the Senate.

Last week, in a party line vote, the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a narrow majority, passed a broad reform package barring the sale of semiautomatic weapons to buyers under 21, banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines and implementing a federal “red flag” law. But a similar bill has no chance to pass in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans are split 50-50, although Vice President Kamala Harris can exercise a tie-breaking vote.

If approved, the bill would be the biggest legislative reform on gun control in 30 years.

Shortly after the agreement on the outline was announced, Biden issued a statement in which he called the plan “a step in the right direction,” but he said that “obviously” it does not include all the measures that he considers to be necessary to stem gun violence, in particular mass shootings.

The president said that it is important that a gun control bill gets to his desk as soon as possible so that he can sign it and “save lives.”

Before reaching the president’s desk, however, any bill would have to pass both the House and Senate.

EFE arc/cfa/bp

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