Senators in United States reach an agreement on new gun control legislation

As tens of thousands took to the streets across the United States over the weekend to rally against gun violence, a bipartisan group of Senators announced that they had reached a tentative deal on new but modest gun control legislation.

The deal could put Congress on a path to enacting the most significant federal response in decades to escalating gun violence, including mass shootings.

20 Senators including 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans penned their names to a framework deal that would likely overcome the 60-vote threshold in the evenly split Upper House for passage.

Americans took to the streets of New York and across the country rallying for laws to be enacted that would curb the proliferation of gun violence nationwide. With a Senate deal this past weekend some incremental measures could move the needle, if only just.

a Gun Control Policy Activist with the Brady Campaign, Christian Heyne says, “We have not seen the likes of, of a framework of what we see in this package for the last 30 years. And I think it is significant, not only because of how this can have a real impact on lives, but to me it feels like a moment in time, and a sign of things to come, right, this is sort of a testing ground that we can pass bipartisan gun laws in this country and the sky won’t fall, and for all of those reasons I think this agreement is really important.”

The framework includes helping states create and implement red flag laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to others or themselves; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programmes, it calls for an investigative period to review the juvenile and mental health records for gun buyers under the age of 21 while sending federal funds to programmes that help primary and secondary schools create enhanced safety measures on campuses.

“What we are seeing at this moment is the continuation of a lot of critical work that has been taking place over the last decade. And just like any social change that occurs in this country, it takes time. You know our legislative process is designed as such. But what we have also seen is a sustained effort to make sure that the American people can be heard, Americans continue to show up, and what we see in this moment is Republicans really hearing from their constituents as well and feeling compelled that they have got to do something. Because we can’t wait another 10 years of inaction to continue to see day in and day out the horrific levels of gun violence that we see.”

President Joe Biden has called on lawmakers to pass common-sense gun control legislation:  

‘Get legislation written and passed’

The package critically does not include a host of measures sought by Democrats, including a ban on assault weapons and raising the age for all gun purchases to 21 among others, but President Biden said it reflected important steps in the right direction.

“This has to become an election issue. The way people listen, Senators, Congressmen, and when people say, ‘This is going to affect my vote.’ Too many people are dying, needlessly. And what’s even being proposed in the House and Senate is marginal, I mean, it’s important but is not all that needs to be done. The idea we are not going to do background checks, the idea we are not… anyway, the answer: march.”

Any modest deal is likely to have critics on both the right and the left but in the end, this deal might just be what compromise looks like and comes after the launch of bipartisan negotiations in the aftermath of the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas that alone claimed in excess of 30 lives. The goal now is to get the legislation written and passed but additional roadblocks cannot be ruled out as the broader membership of both the Senate and the House now get to weigh in.


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