Following the combined shooting deaths of 31 people in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, lawmakers last week gained traction in cobbling together a package of new gun control measures. A small bipartisan group of senators led by Democrat Chris Murphy announced over the weekend a framework for legislation that would serve to invest more heavily in mental health services and limit access to firearms to certain individuals. The proposed legislation does not contain the extreme measures gun control advocates hoped for, but it does represent the first time in decades that Republicans and Democrats have joined forces to address gun violence.
Included in the agreement are nine proposals:
- Support for State Intervention Crisis Orders – provides resources to states to ensure deadly weapons are inaccessible to individuals deemed a danger to others or themselves.
- Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services – widens access to a variety of behavioral and mental health services in communities
- Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence – those convicted of domestic violence or subject to domestic violence restraining orders to be included in National Instant Criminal Background Check System
- Funding for School-Based Mental Health and Supportive Services – invests in mental health and support services within schools, to include early identification and intervention programs
- Funding for School Safety Resources – invests in efforts to establish safety measures for primary and secondary schools and provides education/training to school personnel and students
- Clarification of Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer – strictly enforces laws for those who seek to illegally evade licensing requirements
- Telehealth Investments – invests in widened access to telehealth mental health and crisis services for families
- Under 21 Enhanced Review Process – requires an investigative period to review criminal and other records for buyers under the age of 21
- Penalties for Straw Purchasing – “cracks down” on criminals who engage in illegal straw purchase and/or trafficking of weapons
In their announcement of the plan, Senator Chris Murphy described the agreement as a “commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country.” Ten Republican senators joined Murphy in crafting the proposal, which is expected to be shaped into legislative text soon.
President Joe Biden swiftly praised the efforts of Senator Murphy and fellow legislators for proposing “important steps in the right direction,” regarding it as a stepping stone for stricter gun control legislation down the road.