The legislation faces a few hurdles in the Senate procedurally — it needs two more votes to break a filibuster, then it must be passed for final passage. But it has the support and backing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Tuesday’s vote attracted more Republican votes than the minimum of 10 required to overcome a filibuster. According to Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, it could be passed by the end of the week and then move on to the House.
It would be the most important federal legislation to address gun violence since 1994’s expired 10-year assault weapons ban. However, it does not ban weapons and is far below what Democrats and polls indicate most Americans want.
Schumer stated Tuesday night, “As the Brady background checks bill author, which was passed in 1994,” Schumer said.
The bill provides millions of dollars to schools’ safety, mental health, and crisis intervention programs. It also includes incentives for states that include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
It also makes major changes to the process for someone aged 18-21 who wants to purchase a firearm. This closes the so-called boyfriend loophole. It is a significant victory for Democrats, who have fought for this for over a decade.
After days of negotiations over several points, the text of the bill was finally released. This raises questions about whether the effort will fail. In an effort to pass the bill, lawmakers now need to race against the clock until the Senate leaves for the July Fourth recess.
Schumer thanked bipartisan negotiators Tuesday night and stated that the bill represented “progress” and would save lives.
“While it’s certainly not all we want, this legislation was urgently required,” the New York Democrat said in remarks to the Senate floor.
Republican Senators released the bill, titled “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act”. John Cornyn from Texas, Thom Tillis from North Carolina, as well as Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.
McConnell, Tillis, and Cornyn were the GOP senators who voted Tuesday to advance the legislation. Per the Senate Press Gallery: Joni Ernst of Iowa; Todd Young of Indiana; Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia; Lisa Murkowski in Alaska; Roy Blunt, Missouri; Richard Burr, North Carolina; Bill Cassidy, Louisiana; Susan Collins, Maine, Lindsey Graham, South Carolina; Rob Portman, Ohio, and Mitt Romney, Utah. McConnell, Ernst, and Capito, both of whom are in GOP leadership as well as Young, did not sign on initially to support the gun safety framework.
Here’s a breakdown of the legislation:
$750 million for states to implement and manage crisis intervention programs. This money can be used for red flag programs, as well as other crisis intervention programs such as mental health courts or drug courts. The main issue was whether the money could be used to fund other than red flag legislation. Republicans were able to secure money for those states that do not have red flag laws but have other crisis intervention programs.
The so-called boyfriend loophole has been closed. This legislation closes the loophole in domestic violence law which had been there for years. It bars individuals who are convicted of domestic abuse crimes against married partners or partners with whom their children were shared from owning guns. Intimate partners were not allowed to live together, marry, or have children. Anyone convicted of domestic violence against someone who has a “continuing serious, intimate relationship” with will be barred from owning a gun. This law doesn’t apply retroactively. However, it will allow misdemeanor domestic abuse victims to have their gun rights restored after five years, provided they have not committed any other crimes. This is a concession that Republicans need to accept.
More gun sellers must register as Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers. Individuals who have sold guns as their primary source of income, but not registered as Federally Licensed Dealers of Firearms, will be targeted by the bill. This is important because federally licensed dealers must conduct background checks before selling a gun.
People aged 18-21 who are looking to purchase guns will be subject to more thorough checks. This bill encourages states to include juvenile criminal background checks in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System with grants and also implements a new protocol to check those records. NICS has three days to examine an individual’s records. NICS is allowed to review any information that could be disqualifying. NICS has an additional seven-day period. The gun transfer will be approved if the review is not complete by the deadline.
New federal statutes are created to combat gun trafficking and straw trading. It makes it easier to pursue those who buy guns for people who aren’t allowed to own firearms.
Funding for school security and mental health programs will be increased. This money will be used to fund a variety of programs. Many of these programs already exist, but this law would make them more financially viable.