The Senate "Bipartisan Deal" on gun safety in the wake of lethal mass shootings in Buffalo NY and Uvalde, Texas has resulted in a toothless federal bill that shifts the burdens of adopting red flag and background check laws to states, and rewards state that refuse to implement either with more federal money for "crisis prevention".
A bipartisan group of senators overcame some last-minute hurdles and released legislative text Tuesday on a narrow set of provisions to combat gun violence, including state funding to implement “red flag” laws and enhanced background checks.
“Today, we finalized bipartisan, commonsense legislation to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country," Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a joint statement along with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
"Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law,” they added.
Cornyn said earlier Tuesday that the senators agreed to address the so-called boyfriend loophole by limiting gun rights for non-spouse dating partners who are convicted of domestic abuse.
“Unless someone is convicted of domestic abuse under their state laws, their gun rights will not be impacted," he said on the Senate floor. "Those who are convicted of non-spousal misdemeanor domestic abuse—not felony, but misdemeanor domestic violence—will have an opportunity after five years to have their Second Amendment rights restored. But they have to have a clean record."
The legislation will offer red flag grants to every state, including those that do not adopt red flag laws, which can be used on other crisis prevention programs designed to prevent individuals in crisis from resorting to violence, said Cornyn, the chief GOP negotiator.
The boyfriend loophole and red flag provisions were the last two major sticking points between the core senators: Murphy, Cornyn, Sinema and Tillis.
"We are closing the boyfriend loophole," Murphy said. "This provision alone is going to save the lives of so many women who unfortunately die at the hands of a boyfriend or an ex-boyfriend who hunts them down with a firearm."
Murphy said the bill enhances background checks for people between the ages of 18 and 21, allowing up to three days to conduct checks, and an extra 10 days if there are signs of concern. He said it will contain tougher penalties for gun trafficking and "clarify" which sellers must register as a federal firearm licensee, which would force them to conduct background checks. And he said the bill expands money for mental health and school-based health.
The National Rifle Association quickly announced its opposition to the bill, arguing in a statement that the legislation “does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners.”
The evenly split Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on the legislation as early as Tuesday night, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., saying he hopes to pass the bill this week. The initial vote would only require a simple majority to begin processing the legislation.
It remains to be seen whether there will be 60 votes to ultimately break a filibuster and end debate on the bill later in the voting process.
We'll see if the bill survives or not, but even if it does, in the era of the Roberts Court, states have to opt in individually and still get the money if they don't.
Quite literally this is the best we're going to get on federal firearms legislation, and even then, it's an entirely optional law.
If it even becomes law, which is still very much in doubt.