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A group of 10 Republican and 10 Democratic senators endorsed a package of gun-related legislation on Sunday, suggesting that once the framework agreement is codified in legislative text, it would have enough Republican support to overcome a likely GOP filibuster. The package of modest changes stems from bipartisan talks that began the day after a gunman murdered 19 children and two adults in at a school in Uvalde, Texas. Tens of thousands of people rallied in favor of stricter gun laws on Saturday.
The agreement outlined Sunday would extend federal background checks on gun purchase for people under 21, giving authorities access to juvenile criminal and mental health records currently off-limits; extend a prohibition on gun purchases to romantic partners convicted of domestic violence or subject to a restraining order, closing the "boyfriend loophole"; give states funds for mental health services, school security, and to enact "red flag" laws to temporarily take guns from people deemed dangerous; among other changes.
"Our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans," the 20 senators said in a statement. "We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense proposal into law."
The negotiators, led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), set an informal goal of passing the bill before the Senate goes on break June 24, but that's an ambitious timeline for a package that already faces a perilous path. An unidentified GOP aide emphasized to several news organizations that this was an "agreement on principles, not legislative text," and "one or more of these principles could be dropped" if Republicans object to the final details.
President Biden, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, and gun rights groups said the proposed deal did not match their aspirations but applauded it as a step in the right direction. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) endorsed the bipartisan process but not the framework.
Finalizing the legislative text and passing it through the Senate will require "herculean work," but the framework represents a "pretty good, firm agreement" that would not easily unravel, Murphy told The Washington Post. "This is also the moment where we break the logjam. This is the moment where this 30-year impasse is broken." The last meaningful gun legislation was the 1993 Brady Bill, which enacted background checks, and 1994 assault weapon ban, which lasted 10 years and wasn't renewed.