A bipartisan group of senators announced in a joint statement Sunday that they had reached a provisional agreement on passing legislation in response to a string of high-profile mass shootings and amid growing calls for legislators to address what some have called “America’s gun epidemic.”
The deal, proposed by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats that included Arizona’s own Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, garnered the support of President Biden and other top Democrats. Notably, Sinema was recognized as the chief force behind the inclusion of closing the “boyfriend loophole,” a domestic violence provision that serves as one of the tentpole reforms within the agreement. “I can confirm she proposed the domestic violence provision be included in the framework,” a spokesperson for Sinema said in what might potentially be one of the most significant federal responses to gun violence in recent memory.
As things currently are, partners who have been convicted of domestic abuse are only blocked from having a gun if they live with or have a child with their partner. Addressing the “boyfriend loop” would make it so that anyone convicted of domestic abuse and is in a serious relationship would be ineligible to own a gun.
This Senate agreement primarily focuses on preventative measures, mental health resources, and background checks, with the implementation of red flag laws and domestic abuse prevention. Under the proposed framework, states will receive grants to help either implement or bolster pre-existing state red flag laws that aim at keeping guns away from those who may be a harm to themselves or others.
Other tentative agreements made by the senators include increased school security and clarifying what a federally licensed firearm dealer is. Lastly, the agreement proposes major investments in mental health services and suicide preventation, though Democrats stress that most people facing mental health issues are not seeking out guns or prone to violence.
“Today, we are announcing a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” said the 20 Senators in a joint statement, highlighting the tense negotiating environment in Congress, where Democrats have previously attempted to pass gun reforms only to be blocked by Republicans in what has become a deeply divided issue with political stakes.
While the agreement marks significant progress, it still faces a rocky road ahead, where the details of the proposal may change or be compromised further ahead of a vote, especially as congress prepares for an impending recess. Still, Democrats spoke highly about the plan, highlighting the importance of passing this bill to ensure that current gun regulation laws can be strengthened, more funding be made available, and commercial sellers be made to perform background checks.
“Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities,” noted the bipartisan group of senators in a joint statement.