Republican and Democratic Senators have signed onto a tentative agreement for gun reform legislation in the wake of the shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.
The proposed deal for bipartisan reform, a group of senators announced Sunday, includes enhanced background checks for buyers ages 18-21 as well as funding for mental health treatment and school security. The deal is a result of negotiations between Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). Ten Republican senators — the number Democrats would need to overcome a filibuster — have signed on.
In addition to Cornyn, the Republicans supporting the deal are Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Four of the 10 are set to retire this year, while another five are not up for reelection until 2026.
“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 bipartisan group said in a joint statement. “Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done.”
If successful, this effort could represent the most significant gun reform in decades, though it does not include restrictions on assault weapons or high capacity magazines, which are often used by mass shooters.
One part of the preliminary agreement would incentivize states to pass their own “red flag” laws to establish restrictions on gun purchases by those whom a judge has deemed a potential threat to themselves or others. The plan also includes a prevision under which, for the first time, federal background checks for all gun purchasers under age 21 would include a search of juvenile justice records. The proposed agreement also includes federal funding for mental health services and enhancing security in schools, such as reinforcements to buildings and additional armed police officers on campus.
“This is big news … that a deal is going to be announced today." pic.twitter.com/WM6PMFa36o
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 12, 2022
Since the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, the lethality of mass shootings has significantly increased. Americans have been calling for gun reform in the wake of these mass shootings. March for Our Lives protests in Washington, D.C., and across the country on Saturday drew thousands advocating for stricter gun safety legislation.
Notably, the deal has earned support from gun reform activists, including Everytown for Gun Safety and March for Our Lives’ David Hogg. “We’re not over the finish line yet but this is still major progress on working across the aisle,” said Hogg, who survived the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “Even if it stops one Parkland, it’s worth it,” he added.
Pro-gun organizations have also issued statements about the deal. The National Rifle Association tweeted on Sunday, “We encourage our elected officials to provide more resources to secure our schools, fix to our severely broken mental health system and support law enforcement.” But, the NRA declined to take a stance on the deal just yet, saying that it will “make our position known” once the legislation text is made public. Gun Owners of America, on the other hand, came out strongly against the deal. “Here we go again, Republican legislators compromising your rights and getting nothing in return,” the group wrote on Twitter.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would work to pass a gun reform bill if it gets through the Senate. “If it’s life-saving and can make a difference, and they have bipartisan support for it, then we would welcome it, even though it won’t be everything that we want,” she said Friday.
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered a traumatic brain injury when a man shot her at an event in her district, also weighed in with support. “While this agreement is not perfect, many details remain to be worked out and more must be done,” said Giffords, whose husband, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), was among the senators who signed onto the joint statement. “If carefully drafted and passed into law, this framework would be a lifesaving step forward.”
On Sunday, progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed some concerns about the agreement, specifically the emphasis on criminalization. “I’m disappointed to hear a focus on increased criminalization and juvenile criminalization, instead of really having the focus on guns,” she said on CNN. “But the background checks provision is encouraging.”
This breaking news post has been updated.