Updated: Jun 13, 2022
In the wake of the Uvalde massacre and a number of recent shootings across the country, a highly-anticipated, bipartisan package for gun control was announced on Sunday by a group of senators. Deemed as a "commonsense" agreement and negotiated by Senators Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, this deal is potentially the most significant federal action regarding guns in almost 30 years. For lawmakers, the hope is that it will curtail gun violence and provide a framework for a new era of gun control in America.
The United States Capitol Buiding in Washington, D.C. / Image Source
In a joint statement from the senators who put forth the package, they said:
"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. Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities."
Among the measures proposed in the agreement, there is an overarching emphasis on the correlation between mental health issues and the perpetrators of gun violence. It addresses this by expanding background checks to enable authorities to check the juvenile and mental health records of potential gun buyers under the age of 21, as well as their partners.
"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. Most importantly, our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans," the architects of the package continued.
Additionally, the gun safety framework would provide funding for states to enact "red-flag" laws, which would allow courts to temporarily confiscate guns from individuals who show signs of posing a threat to themselves or others.
Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas is one of the main politicians working toward reaching a bipartisan consensus on gun control. / Image Source
Although the legislation is not finalized, it is already drawing criticism from both sides: gun control advocates believe it to be too weak, while those against more gun control fear the measures would infringe upon their Second Amendment rights. One detail to note is that the proposal does not include provisions such as raising the minimum age for purchasing weapons from 18 to 21 — a hotly contested idea.
In response to the agreement, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said, "I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country."
As the conversation surrounding gun safety has proved to be contentious and ongoing, these questions remain: What is the solution to our society's problem of rampant violence and commonplace shootings? Will this bipartisan deal be the solution?
The group of senators, comprised of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, includes the following:
Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut
John Cornyn, R-Texas
Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina
Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona
Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut
Roy Blunt, R-Missouri
Cory Booker, D-New Jersey
Richard Burr, R-North Carolina
Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana
Susan Collins, R-Maine
Chris Coons, D-Delaware
Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
Martin Heinrich, D-Nevada
Mark Kelly, D-New Jersey
Angus King, D-Virginia
Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia
Rob Portman, R-Ohio
Mitt Romney, R-Utah
Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan
Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania