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, garnered the support of President Biden and other Democrats including Wisconsin’s own Senator Tammy Baldwin, who posted on Twitter Sunday saying “I stand on the side of taking action and this is a positive step forward that can help protect people from gun violence, mass shootings, and help save lives.”
Meanwhile Republican Senator Ron Johnson has shown no signs of support for the proposal, with his spokesperson saying he is waiting to see the text of the bill, despite what might potentially be one of the most significant federal responses to gun violence in recent memory.
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.
Senators also stressed the need to close the “boyfriend loop,” which addresses gun ownership among unmarried partners. 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.
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.
“Congress has a moral responsibility to take action on gun violence, but so far Senate Republicans have blocked common sense gun safety reforms. I am pleased that we may have enough Senate Republicans to move from doing nothing to doing something about gun violence,” said Baldwin in a 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.
According to data, the murder rate by gun in Wisconsin has increased by 189 percent from 2011 to 2020, signifcantly higher than the 70 percent national increase.