‘Bumps in the Road’ Hold Up Bipartisan Gun Deal
WASHINGTON — The Senate adjourned Friday morning without any action taken on its proposed bipartisan gun safety framework, throwing cold water on the hopes that a deal would be reached before the chamber’s state work period recess.
The members currently leading the negotiations are Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who each met on Thursday for several hours before failing to reach a compromise. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill worry that if the text of a bill hasn’t been agreed to before the Senate’s next session begins on Tuesday, June 21, the chamber won’t be able to move the legislation forward before the July 4th recess — if at all.
Cornyn, the lead Republican in the negotiations, outlined the tentative “commonsense” proposal earlier this week. So far, the deal appears to include:
- Support for state crisis intervention orders.
- Investments in children and family mental health services.
- Protections for victims of domestic violence.
- Funding for school-based mental health and supportive services.
- Funding for school safety resources.
- Clarification on the definition of federally licensed firearm dealers.
- Telehealth investments.
- An enhanced review process for buyers under 21 years of age.
- Penalties for straw purchasing.
In remarks from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Cornyn said the group has dealt with “a couple of bumps in the road that have slowed things down a little bit,” but assured members that the negotiators have made solid progress regardless. However, Cornyn said none of the proposals entail a national red flag law that would mandate gun confiscations in some instances.
“This is the hardest part because, at some point, you just got to make a decision,” Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. “And when people don’t want to make a decision, you can’t accomplish the result — and that’s kind of where we are right now.”
Thousands rallied earlier this week on the National Mall to call for the passage of new gun control measures, as previously reported by The Well News. The protest was attended by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and March For Our Lives co-founder David Hogg who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in 2018.
Reaching some sort of deal on new gun regulations has found widespread support from a majority of Americans polled on the issue. The majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans surveyed supported raising the minimum legal age to 21 years old to buy any firearm nationwide, according to a recent Quinnipiac University national poll of adults.
That same poll found that 57% of American adults want stricter gun laws in the United States and 92% support background check requirements for all gun buyers. Additionally, 83% support instituting red flag laws that would allow family members or law enforcement officials to petition a court to confiscate guns from someone who may be at a higher risk of violent behavior.
Despite Cornyn’s insistence that no red flag laws are involved in the Senate’s negotiations, the House of Representatives passed legislation last week that contains provisions for a Department of Justice-administered grant program that encourages states to adopt such laws, The Well News previously reported. The minutiae of that bill, entitled the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” has yet to be worked out in a Senate committee or brought to the floor for a vote.
Last Thursday, over 515 U.S. CEOs and business leaders signed a letter urging lawmakers to pass comprehensive measures that prevent gun violence. The signatories of the letter include the executives of Levi Strauss & Co., Bain Capital, Northwell Health, Bloomberg LP, Yelp, Lyft, DoorDash and Lululemon Athletica, among many others.
“Taken together, the gun violence epidemic represents a public health crisis that continues to devastate communities — especially Black and Brown communities — and harm our national economy,” the text of the letter reads. “All of this points to a clear need for action: the Senate must take urgent action to pass bold gun safety legislation as soon as possible in order to avoid more death and injury.”
Data assembled by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit gun control advocacy organization, found that gun violence in America costs an average of $280 billion annually in costs associated with medical bills, ambulance and patient transport, law enforcement response and investigation, criminal justice costs and work loss from forgone earnings.
Everytown took its findings from data published by the federal Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other studies, according to the methodological note attached to its report. Further, the report indicates that taxpayers pay a daily average of $34.8 million for medical care, first responders, ambulances, police and criminal justice services associated with gun violence.
“We all recognize that if we want to get this done next week, we have got to finish this off soon,” Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator, told Capitol Hill reporters on Thursday. “We have agreement on most all of the bill and we’re currently drafting what we have agreement on.
“There’s a couple of issues that we don’t have agreement on and we need to work through the next 24 hours, but we are operating as if we’re bringing this bill to the floor,” he continued.
The Well News reached out to each of the 20 Senators participating in bipartisan school safety and mental health negotiations related to gun violence, but received no responses by press time. This story will be updated if and when they respond.
Reece can be reached at [email protected] and https://twitter.com/ReeceNWrites
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