WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11: Participants during March for Our Lives 2022 on June 11, 2022 in Washington, DC.

The Senate Announces Watered Down Bipartisan Gun Control Bill

This weekend, tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets for the March for Our Lives protest against rampant gun violence. At the same time, the Senate has announced a bipartisan deal on gun reform that is the first substantial gun safety bill in decades. The bill itself is fairly toothless, because how else could democrats get 10 republicans on board? But it does include important and long overdue moves on gun reform that are better than, well, nothing. 20 senators, 10 democrats and 10 republicans, signed onto the framework, writing “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, … Most importantly, our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”

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The plan includes “needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can’t purchase weapons.” The framework includes support for mental health resources, funding for school safety, expanded background checks for buyers under the age of 21, and penalties for illegal straw purchasing by convicted criminals. The bill would also set up a federal grant program to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws, which would allow authorities to remove guns from potentially dangerous people.

Perhaps the biggest win in the bill is the closing of the “boyfriend loophole”, which would prevent gun sales to domestic abusers regardless of marital status. Still, there are plenty of common sense gun reforms left on the table because republicans refused to sign on: an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, raising the minimum age for rifle purchase from 18 to 21. But while the bill is narrow, it is something, and while its the barest of bare minimums of what we want, it’s clearly the most that republicans are willing to give.

President Joe Biden responded to the announcement saying the bill “does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction.” He noted that the bill would be “the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades,” adding, “With bipartisan support, there are no excuses for delay, and no reason why it should not quickly move through the Senate and the House.”

The bill was met with celebration that something, anything, would be done to combat gun violence, while others criticized the bill for lacking substantive reforms. And right-wing gun fetishists collectively lost their minds over the legislation.

(via Washington Post, featured image: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for March For Our Lives)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.