WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of Senate negotiators say they have reached a deal on a package of safety and gun-related measures narrowly focused on preventing future shootings similar to the one in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed in their school.
The proposal, which has not been written into legislative text, includes money to encourage states to pass and implement so-called “red flag” laws to remove guns from potentially dangerous people, money for school safety and mental health resources, expanded background checks for gun purchases for people between the ages of 18 and 21 and penalties for illegal straw purchases by convicted criminals.
The agreement has the support of at least 20 senators who worked closely over the past several weeks to find the areas of common ground that could pass the closely divided Senate. The group includes 10 Republicans, meaning a final bill could potentially garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.
The negotiators called it a “commonsense” proposal that would reduce the threat of violence across the country.
“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,” the group said in a statement. “Most importantly, our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”
Aides have said that it could take weeks to go through the legal and technical process of turning a preliminary deal into a final bill. Votes are not expected imminently on this agreement. Senators have been broadly optimistic that any bipartisan agreement will eventually pass the Senate but the ultimate fate of the bill is not entirely clear. President Biden has largely left senators to reach an agreement on their own without White House input and House members have largely been unwilling to weigh in on the content of the talks until such a framework was released.
President Biden expressed support for the deal in a statement. “Obviously, it does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades,” Biden said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to put a bill on the floor as soon as possible once legislation is written. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a statement praising the negotiators but stopped short of pledging support to an eventual bill.