Twenty senators — 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans — have announced an agreement on a framework for modest gun-control measures in response to the recent mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. The deal calls for enhancing background checks on people from ages 18 to 21 before they can take possession of guns, and establishing a federal grant program encouraging states to adopt red-flag laws to keep firearms away from people with mental health issues who are deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. Other provisions would close the "boyfriend loophole," preventing gun sales to domestic violence offenders other than spouses, and provide billions of dollars for mental health care and school security programs, including more armed officers.
The proposed restrictions would not achieve Democrats' goal of banning assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines altogether, or even raising the age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21. Nor would the deal also take other strict steps such as imposing universal background checks. But Democratic negotiators say that passing any bill that can help prevent mass shootings would be a big win. "We cannot let the congressional perfect be the enemy of the good," said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat. "Though this agreement falls short in this and other respects, it can and will make our nation safer."
Negotiators from both parties are hammering out the wording of the legislation to present the full Senate, hoping to keep enough Republicans happy to get the 60 votes needed to beat a GOP filibuster. Will the deal really make a difference?
This is a good start
The compromise hammered out under the leadership of Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) "won't save all lives lost to gun violence," says The Washington Post in an editorial, "but it will save some." It's a "reasonable and meaningful" first step that provides "a hopeful sign our government is not completely broken," and we should all be grateful that some Republicans are willing to end years of united GOP opposition to saner gun laws. Encouraging states to pass red-flag laws will keep guns out of the hands of some potential mass shooters. Closing the "boyfriend loophole" will make dating partners, not just spouses, safer. And pumping billions of "new federal dollars" into mental health care and school security can only help. "This agreement, if passed by Congress, would be the most significant piece of gun-safety legislation in more than 25 years, and for that, it should be applauded."
The framework doesn't go nearly far enough
"This is it? This is all?" says the New York Daily News in an editorial. Americans have just suffered "the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Texas by a disturbed 18-year-old wielding an assault rifle," and "the murder of 10 shoppers in Buffalo by a racist 18-year-old wielding another such weapon." All that, and the nation is supposed to celebrate a deal that "won't ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines," raise the minimum age to buy these deadly guns to 21, impose universal background checks, or establish a national red-flag law? Settling for this collection of "tweaks in the midst of an emergency is like getting out a can of Raid in the center of a locust swarm."
There's no guarantee this will pass
With the pain of the Uvalde and Buffalo massacres still raw, Republicans have "political incentive" to vote for some "very modest gun safety legislation," at least once they're safely through their primaries, says Alayna Treene at Axios. "But there are still plenty of opportunities for the wheels to fall off." Ultimately, this deal's prospects will depend on how the bipartisan framework is translated into a bill that Congress can vote on. Every time the legislation mentions guns there's a chance supporters will lose one of the 10 GOP votes they'll need to "get over the 60-vote finish line" to beat the expected Republican filibuster.
Let's hope Republicans wake up and defeat this
This gun deal might not amount to a "colossal surrender" by Republicans to Democrats trying to capitalize on the recent mass shootings, says Scott McKay at The American Spectator, but "it for damn sure isn't a victory" for anyone who values the constitutional right to bear arms. It's pretty clearly unconstitutional to "restrict the Second Amendment rights of supposed adults 18-21 years old" by making them jump through extra hoops to buy guns. Let's hope the 10 turncoat Republicans who agreed to this Democratic piñata of gun laws come to their senses in time to block this assault on gun rights. If they don't, they can forget about getting re-elected, or even re-nominated.