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Senators say agreement on gun violence compromise is at hand

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Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., conducts a news conference after the senate luncheons within the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., appears at left.

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Senators have moved to the brink of an agreement on a bipartisan gun violence bill, Democrats’ lead negotiator said Tuesday, potentially teeing up votes this week on an incremental but notable package that might stand as Congress’s response to mass shootings in Texas and Recent York that shook the nation.

Nine days after Senate bargainers agreed to a framework proposal — and 29 years after Congress last enacted a serious measure curbing firearms — Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told reporters that a final agreement on the proposal’s details was at hand.

The laws lawmakers have been working toward would toughen background checks for the youngest firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks and beef up penalties on gun traffickers. It also would disburse money to states and communities geared toward improving school safety and mental health initiatives.

“I believe we have reached agreement,” Murphy said. “And just we’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s at once. I believe we’re in good condition.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the chief Republican bargainer, spoke on the Senate floor moments later and said he, Murphy and the opposite two top Senate bargainers had “reached agreement.”

The senators didn’t initially say how they’d resolved the 2 major hindrances that had delayed agreement on the plan’s legislative language.

One was easy methods to make abusive romantic partners subject to the prevailing ban that violent spouses face to obtaining guns. The opposite was providing federal aid to states which have “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily take firearms away from people deemed dangerous or to states which have violence intervention programs.

If enacted, the election-year measure would highlight a modest but telling shift within the politics of a difficulty that has defied compromise since Bill Clinton was president.

After 10 Black shoppers were killed last month in Buffalo, Recent York, and 19 children and two teachers died days later in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and a few Republicans decided that this time, measured steps were preferable to Congress’ usual response to such horrors — gridlock.

What’s uncertain is whether or not the Senate agreement and its passage would mark the start of slow but gradual congressional motion to curb gun violence, or the high water mark on the problem. Until Buffalo and Uvalde, a numbing parade of mass slayings — at sites including elementary and high schools, houses of worship, military facilities, bars and the Las Vegas Strip — have yielded only gridlock in Washington.

Republicans refused to incorporate proposals in Tuesday’s compromise that were sought by President Joe Biden and Democrats to ban assault weapons or raise the minimum age for purchasing them, prohibit high-capacity magazines or require background checks for virtually all gun sales.

It seemed likely a majority of Republicans — especially within the House — would oppose the laws. Underscoring the backlash GOP lawmakers supporting the pact would face from essentially the most conservative voters, delegates booed Cornyn at his state’s Republican convention Saturday as he described the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said his goal was for his chamber to debate and vote on the laws this week. Momentum in Congress for gun laws has a history of waning quickly after mass shootings. Lawmakers are scheduled to start a two-week July 4th recess at the tip of this week.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he supported the outline bargainers announced last weekend. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also said she backed the hassle and seems sure to establish votes on it as quickly as she will be able to.

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