Over the weekend, the Senate reached a bipartisan gun control agreement with 9 Democrats, 10 Republicans, and 1 Independent. Although the text of the legislation is not finalized, the list of key elements has been released. At first glance, it appears to address concerns set forth by Republicans and removes some of the more egregious items from earlier proposals. However, there are areas of concern, not to mention they still label it “gun control.”
Senate Reaches Bipartisan Gun Control Agreement
As I mentioned, the actual legislation is not finalized, so I am only going to address what we know. Once the final text is ready for consumption, we will take a deeper look into it for comparison.
The Senators specifically involved in reaching the agreement are:
- John Cornyn (R-Texas)
- Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)
- Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
- Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
- Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
- Susan Collins (R-Maine)
- Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
- Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
- Mitt Romney (R-Utah)
- Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
- Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
- Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
- Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
- Cory Booker (D- N.J.)
- Chris Coons (D-Del.)
- Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
- Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.)
- Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
- Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
- Angus King (I-Maine)
The proposed legislation explicitly addresses mental health resources and hardening school safety, as proposed by Republicans. However, it does include “Red Flag” laws that have the potential for abuse. But, it is important to note that the proposal does away with the “Assault Weapons” ban.
According to the New York Post, “The framework of the agreement encourages states to enact red-flag laws, to expand mental health services in all 50 states, as well as allow searches of juvenile records during background checks for those under 21 and increase funds for school security and mental health programs.”
The article continues, stating, “But absent from the agreement are a number of proposals sought by Biden and gun control advocates — including an assault weapons ban and an increase in the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21 from 18.”
The Proposed Legislation
A press release from the bipartisan group includes a list of items in the proposed legislation:
- Provides resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections.
Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services
- National expansion of community behavioral health center model; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence
- Convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders are included in NICS, including those who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
Funding for School-Based Mental Health and Supportive Services
- Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including: early identification and intervention programs and school based mental health and wrap-around services.
Funding for School Safety Resources
- Invests in programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.
Clarification of Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer
- Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements.
- Invests in programs that increase access to mental and behavioral health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth.
Under 21 Enhanced Review Process
- For buyers under 21 years of age, requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.
Penalties for Straw Purchasing
- Cracks down on criminals who illegally straw purchase and traffic guns.
Although gun control in itself goes against our Second Amendment, at least this proposal features actual compromise. In its current state, most gun-grabbing wish list items didn’t make the cut, while real, effective measures did. This proposal would replace the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” which passed the House but is expected to die in the Senate.
A recent Reuters article specifically lists the items in the proposal, comparing what made the cut and what didn’t. The article lists the following items:
- State crisis intervention support — Red Flag Laws
- Enhanced review process for buyers under 21 — Enhanced background checks to include juvenile and mental health records
- Penalties for “straw purchases”
- Mental health services and Telehealth investments
- Clarification on definition of licensed dealer
- Protections for domestic violence victims
- School-based mental health and support services funding
- School safety resource funding
- “Assault Weapon” ban
- Higher age requirement to buy semi-automatic rifles
- Federal background check expansion
- Repeal of liability shield — protecting gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits
It’s Still Gun Control
As it stands, there are a couple of items of concern, specifically the “Red Flag” laws. As such we will be monitoring the legislation as it’s finalized and will report on it when it becomes available. To be sure, if they are going to call it gun control, we are going to keep an eye on it.
At this point, and with the included items, this legislation appears to have enough Republican support to overcome the filibuster. Although there are legitimate items that address school safety, there are items of concern.
If your Senator is on the list above, call their office and voice your concern over the potential abuse of the “Red Flag” laws. Specifically, these could easily be used to target law-abiding gun owners through “Swatting” or other false reporting.
Keep in mind, there’s a current campaign across the government, media, and social media to label Republicans as “Domestic Terrorists.” That sounds particularly like a red flag to me. For this reason, we should all be concerned about where that could lead.
With this in mind, this has the hallmarks of a Trojan Horse. Although some of the items look good, we need to stay leery. Even though it is bipartisan gun control, it is still gun control.