Republicans and Democrats agree on a bill with modest gun control measures in the US
A protester, with a sign that reads:
A protester, with a sign that reads: “Congress, stop doing anything. It’s killing people,” this Saturday in Washington.JONATHAN ERNST (REUTERS)

A group of Democratic and Republican senators have reached an agreement in principle on gun control to advance a bill that would combine modest new restrictions on access and possession with major investments in mental health and school safety. The agreement, announced this Sunday, has the support of ten Democrats and ten conservatives and puts an end to a political dialogue that has been deadlocked for more than a year, when the dismay of the majority of public opinion continues after the mass shootings of Buffalo (New York) and Uvalde (Texas). If the initiative, advanced among other means by the newspaper Washington Post and CNN, becomes law, would be the most significant federal restriction since the 1990s.

The agreement includes financing the implementation of laws red flag at the state level, which allow the police or relatives to limit, by judicial order, the right to possess weapons of any potentially dangerous individual, even to the point of confiscating them; a reinforcement of mental health services, expanding background checks to those under 21 years of age -such as the shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde- and more means to reinforce security measures in schools. However, the bipartisan bill leaves out key measures championed by Biden and gun control groups, such as banning the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines or raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21 years (an initiative that the State of New York has recently approved).

As a novelty, the text introduces a clause to solve what is called “boyfriend’s legal loophole”, and that would prohibit couples, not only spouses, from owning weapons if they have been convicted of gender violence. The bipartisan agreement states that batterers who have been convicted or have restraining orders will be included in criminal background checks regardless of marital status.

Although the final text has not yet been drafted, the news represents a great advance, given the political and social polarization that the issue of arms arouses in the country, and it comes a day after thousands of people went out to the streets to ask for more control measures. Asked by journalists in Los Angeles, where he has participated in the Summit of the Americas, President Joe Biden welcomed the national call of the March for Our Lives group. “Keep marching [protestando], It is important. This has to become an electoral issue. the way that [los congresistas] listen is when people say, ‘Look, this is going to influence my vote.’ Too many people are dying needlessly,” she noted.

“What is proposed in the House and the Senate is marginal,” Biden admitted in Los Angeles, hours before the agreement was announced. “I mean, it’s… important, but it’s not all that needs to be done,” said the president, who has repeatedly argued for the need to adopt “common sense laws.” On the state of the negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, the president slipped his hope: “They are moderately optimistic. I have spoken with [el senador demócrata Chris] Murphy multiple times. I also spoke with him yesterday, yesterday afternoon.”

The senator from Connecticut delivered a fiery speech in favor of gun control on the day of the massacre in Uvalde (Texas), with 21 fatalities (19 minors among them), the latest blow to public opinion on the phenomenon of armed violence , which has been increasing since 2020 until being described as an epidemic by the White House. Murphy has led Democrats’ gun control initiatives since 2012, following the massacre at a Sandy Hook school in Newton, in the state he represents, that claimed 28 lives, including 20 minors.

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The objective of the working group was to obtain the signature of 10 Republican senators before the official presentation of the agreement, the number necessary to overcome the mechanism of filibustering in the Senate, whose composition is currently divided between 50 Republican seats and 50 Democrats, with the tie-breaking vote for the Speaker of the House, currently Vice Speaker Kamala Harris. With the support of the ten Republicans who support the agreement, the procedure could be saved without the delays and obstacles introduced by filibustering.

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