On Sunday, members of a bipartisan senators announced they had drawn up an emerging framework for new gun safety regulations. The next challenge for the legislators is to determine how to write the legislation so that it will receive the necessary sixty votes in the Senate.
Texas Senator John Cornyn, who was personally tasked with being a part of the framework committee by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is spearheading the effort, along with Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). They are three of twenty total senators on the bipartisan committee.
The committee’s framework is an effort to bring about commonsense gun laws in the wake of multiple mass shootings in the last two months.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his approval for the framework, and he says he intends to put it the framework to a vote as soon as possible. President Biden said of the framework it “would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.”
One of the most prominent features of the framework is its establishment of so-called red flag laws. The proposal would especially examine prospective gun buyers under the age of twenty-one in regards to possible mental health issues. This has proven to be an issue in the past because every state has different regulations on how juvenile records may be accessed.
One of the caveats of the red flag laws proposed in the framework is also one of the most controversial. These red flag laws would allow local law officers to remove any firearms from the possession of an individual who is thought to be a danger either to one’s self or to society at large. The framework says that the removal would be temporary.
The framework attempts to address what has been called the “boyfriend” loophole, which would prevent someone who has a history of violence or abuse against a domestic partner from owning a firearm.
The framework also aims to cut down on unlicensed firearms dealers, although the particular language of that legislation has not been made clear. Straw purchasers, or those who would purchase a gun for someone else, is another target of the framework.
According to Politico, this is the most sweeping framework on tackling gun ownership issues since 2013. That legislation was also bipartisan, written by Joe Manchin and Toomey in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. At the time, the Manchin and Toomey legislation was blocked on a bipartisan level. In 2019, negotiations went on, but no legislation passed. The most recent law concerning gun control was a bill written by John Cornyn and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), and it has to do with background checks.
More progressive Senators would have preferred to ban what they refer to as assault rifles, such as AR-15 long rifles. (The public often mistakenly believes the “AR” in the gun’s name stands for “assault rifle,” but it does not. It actually stands for a manufacturer, the Arma-Lite Rifle.) Mitch McConnell has also expressed a personal support for expanding background checks as well as raising the age to purchase certain firearms to twenty-one, but there are a number of other Republican senators who do not.
The major issue at point is making sure that any gun legislation will be able to garner up to sixty votes as required for passage in the Senate.
Last week, the House passed a Keep our Kids Safe Act, which will likely die in the Senate. If the Senate can pass legislation that reflects the framework introduced by the bipartisan committee, the House would then get a chance to vote on it or mark up a version that they might agree upon.
Some Senators are anxious to get some type of gun control legislation passed prior to the mid-term elections in November. Four of the Republicans on the bipartisan committee are retiring this year, including Toomey, Burr, Blunt, and Portman.