Senators Strike Bipartisan Framework for a 'Gun Safety' Deal

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

All the screaming demanding that Congress “do something” about gun violence has borne fruit. The Senators listened. The Senators spoke. And the Senators laid a legislative egg.


What kind of egg remains to be seen.

It’s called a “framework deal” because the legislation has yet to be written. We can guarantee that no matter how it comes out, it will not prevent one single drop of blood from being spilled. It won’t stop anyone determined to be the next school shooter from getting wall-to-wall TV coverage by a doting media desperate for ratings and relevance.

Another school/mall/nightclub will be the next Uvalde/Buffalo/Sacramento mourning site. So naturally, the way to solve this problem is to take guns from law-abiding citizens or make it harder for them to purchase protection.


The emerging package is anchored around extra scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21, grants to states to implement so-called red flag laws and new spending on mental health treatment and school security. While translating the agreement into legislation will take time, the large group of supportive senators shows that the package could gain 60 votes on the Senate floor before heading to the House.

“Our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense proposal into law,” the 20 senators said in their statement.

Spending money on mental health intervention programs and school security is welcome. But the “extra scrutiny” will probably include some sort of background check.

Will it include a check to see if a potential gun buyer had ever been prescribed medication for depression or antipsychotics? If so, will it allow for guns to be seized despite their being legally purchased?

The impulse behind red flag laws is decent, but in practice, these laws give far too much leeway to the government to seize guns. We can hope legislators will find some kind of happy medium to satisfy society’s needs to protect itself from the mentally ill and not disturb the constitutional rights of American citizens.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement welcoming the announcement as proof of “the value of dialogue and cooperation,” though he sidestepped a direct endorsement of the framework: “I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country.”

In addition to provisions on red flag laws, which allow law enforcement to seek temporary removal of firearms from an individual who is a threat to himself or others, the package also would close what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole” by broadening firearms restrictions on those who have abused their romantic partners.

The package also aims to crack down on straw purchasers and illegal unlicensed firearms dealers, according to a summary of the agreement.

McConnell and most of the GOP leadership have to determine which way the wind is blowing before committing themselves to support or opposition. It will depend on how aggressive Democrats want to get. If they want to make guns a midterm issue, the voters will wonder why Democrats are trying to convince them that this is important when money is so tight because of inflation.

Indeed, Republicans don’t need to do anything — especially if Democrats just want to play politics with guns. It will be obvious to everyone that any proposal that Democrats fashion will be a political showhorse and not a serious attempt to address the problem.



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