Senate bargainers reached an agreement Tuesday on a bipartisan gun violence bill, potentially teeing up final passage by week’s end on an incremental but landmark package that would stand as Congress’ response to mass shootings in Texas and New York that shook the nation.
According to the Associated Press, Lawmakers released the 80-page bill nine days after agreeing to a framework for the plan and 29 years after Congress last enacted major firearms curbs. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted Senate approval later this week, and passage by the Democratic-led House could follow quickly.
Though Republicans blocked tougher restrictions sought by Democrats, the accord marks an election-year breakthrough on an issue that pits the GOP’s staunch gun-owning and rural voters against Democrats’ urban-centered backers of firearms curbs. That makes it one of the most incendiary culture war battlefields in politics and a sensitive vote for some lawmakers, particularly Republicans who might alienate Second Amendment stalwarts.
The legislation would toughen background checks for the youngest firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks and beef up penalties on gun traffickers. It also would disburse money to states and communities aimed at improving school safety and mental health initiatives.
Aides estimated the measure would cost around $15 billion, which Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the lead Democratic bargainer, said would be fully paid for.
Resolving one final hurdle that delayed the accord, the bill would prohibit romantic partners convicted of domestic violence and not married to their victims from getting firearms. Convicted abusers who are married to, live with or had children with their victims are already barred from having guns.
The compromise prohibits guns for a person who has “a current or recent former dating relationship with the victim.” That is defined in part as one between people ”who have or have recently had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” An offender’s ability to own a gun could be restored after five years if they’ve not committed another serious crime.