The gun control proposal mapped out by a bipartisan group of 20 U.S. senators on Sunday is the first time in almost 30 years that politicians from both sides of the aisle have come to an agreement on the issue.
But the agreement, which comes in the wake of the mass shootings at a Buffalo supermarket and a Texas elementary school, still falls short of several measures long sought by gun control advocates, especially a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks of gun buyers.
Legislation drafted on the basis of the proposal would contain a “red flag” provision enabling law enforcement to temporarily confiscate dangerous weapons from those deemed a danger to themselves or others; provide billions of dollars in funding for mental health and school safety, boosting community mental health clinics, and close what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole,” which would tighten gun ownership restrictions on anyone who has been convicted of abusing their partner, even if the pair aren’t married and don’t share a child.
The proposal also contains a ban on gun trafficking and straw purchasing, which Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called a “difference-making tool to stop the flow of illegal guns into cities.”
While it does not increase the purchasing age for gun buyers to 21 from the current 18, it does allow for enhanced background checks for buyers under age 21, along with a halt to the purchase process while the check is conducted. The shooters in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, N.Y., as well as in Parkland, Fla., were all under 21.
The measures would allow for a more thorough review of anyone between 18 and 21 seeking to buy an AR-15, invoking the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which would contact state and local law enforcement to search for any mental health or juvenile records that could disqualify the person from owning such a weapon.
The proposal also calls for clarifying who must register as licensed gun dealers to ensure that all commercial sellers are conducting background checks.
But several measures favored by President Biden and gun safety advocates did not make it into the plan.
The proposal does not ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines or raise the purchase age from 18 to 21 It does not repeal gun makers’ legal immunity from liability, and does not impose safe storage requirements for guns. Universal background checks are also off the table.
“This bill is a good start but not sufficient enough to meet today’s threats for schools, houses of worship, and other ‘soft targets,’” Nelson Vergara, a security and law enforcement analyst, told the Daily News.
“The proposed ‘enhanced background review’ process for young gun purchasers of ages 18-21 does not fully meet the vital proactive measure required in our schools. Enhanced background checks will not address the growing problem in America.”
With News Wire Services