(The Hill) – Senate negotiators unveiled an 80-page bill on Tuesday evening in response to the mass shootings at Tops supermarket in Buffalo, NY, and Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, capping weeks of intense negotiations.
Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.), the top Democratic negotiator, hails the bill as the biggest breakthrough on the issue of gun violence in 30 years and predicted Tuesday that it would save lives.
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the Republican leader of the talks, said the legislation will take guns out of the hands of dangerous or law-breaking people, but will not affect the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Here’s what’s inside the package:
Enhanced background checks for 18-21 year olds
The legislation would strengthen background check requirements for buyers under 21 who have juvenile criminal records.
It would keep in place the current law requiring the completion of a background check investigation for people aged 18 to 21 within three days, but would also require the national Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system to check state records to identify people with minor children. records that would prevent them from buying firearms.
But the enhanced background check requirements for buyers aged 18 to 21 would expire on September 30, 2032, requiring a future Congress to pass new legislation to extend it.
The Uvalde and Buffalo shooters were both teenagers.
Money for red flag laws and other intervention programs
The bill would expand the Byrne JAG Law Enforcement Grant Program to allow states to use federal funding to implement crisis response programs to reduce gun violence. States would have the ability to use the money to administer red flag laws to remove firearms from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
The money could also be used for mental health courts, drug courts, veterans courts and assisted outpatient treatment courts.
It would put in place due process protections for intervention programs.
Cornyn explained Tuesday that if a state red flag law does not include due process protections, it will not be eligible for grants.
Closing the “boyfriend” loophole‘
The legislation would suspend a person’s right to purchase or possess a firearm for a period of at least five years if they are convicted of a violent offense against a person with whom they have or had a love relationship.
A current or former romantic partner would automatically regain the right to buy or own a firearm after a period of five years has elapsed since the end of their criminal sentence. Dating or intimate partners convicted of a violent crime during this five-year waiting period would not automatically regain the right to purchase or possess a firearm.
Under current law, those convicted of an offense of domestic violence against a spouse, a person with a common child or a cohabiting partner lose their right to buy or possess firearms, but defenders have long lamented the so-called “boyfriend”. loophole” when none of these conditions apply
Child and Family Mental Health Services
The bill expands the Community Mental Health Services Pilot Program, expanding Medicaid funding for certified community behavioral health clinics, allowing up to 10 new states to join the program every 10 years.
It requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide guidance to states on how to increase access to health care and mental health services through telehealth programs for Medicaid enrollees and the health insurance for children.
It also aims to improve access to mental health services in schools by requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide states with resources to expand school health programs.
Clarifying the definition of arms dealers
The bill specifies that people who regularly buy and sell firearms for profit must be registered as holders of a federal firearms license, which would require them to complete background checks to the transactions.
The language is intended to crack down on people who buy and sell large numbers of firearms but intentionally avoid dealer license requirements.
Fight against straw buyers and illegal firearms trafficking
The bill would establish a specific new criminal offense for straw buyers and gun smugglers and establish tougher penalties, up to 15 years in prison, for those who break the law.
The wording is intended to make it easier for prosecutors to charge gun traffickers. Under current law, prosecutors often have to rely on charging people who illegally traffic firearms for paperwork violations.
This would give law enforcement tools to charge people who act as intermediaries for criminals and drug traffickers.
This would direct the US Sentencing Commission to adopt stricter guidelines for straw buyers and gun smugglers.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both welcomed the bill Tuesday night.
“This bipartisan gun safety legislation is progress and will save lives. Though that’s not all we want, this legislation is urgently needed,” Schumer said in a statement, promising to introduce the bill immediately.
McConnell announced he would vote for the bill, likely giving it at least 61 votes and enough to overcome a filibuster.
“For years, the far left has falsely claimed that Congress can only solve the terrible problem of mass murder by trampling on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. This bill proves that to be wrong. Our colleagues have put in place a set of grassroots, common sense measures that will help make these horrific incidents less likely while fully respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said in a statement.
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