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(WABNEWS) — A group of senators published Tuesday night the text for a bipartisan gun safety bill, a key moment in the effort to pass legislation to counter gun violence in a highly polarized political climate.
The release of the bill’s text comes after days of lawmakers haggling over various sticking points, raising questions about whether it would ever be finalized or the effort would fall apart. Lawmakers will now have to race against the clock before the Senate goes into recess on July 4 in an attempt to get the bill through the chamber.RELATED
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said late Tuesday that he would move quickly to introduce the bill “with an initial procedural vote as soon as tonight.” He added, “After that, we’ll move on to final approval as quickly as possible.”
The Senate is now expected to vote at 7:30 pm (ET) on Tuesday on a procedural motion to begin debate on the legislation.
The bill, titled the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” was signed by Democratic Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
The Senate’s joint gun safety bill includes millions in investments for school safety, mental health, state crisis intervention programs, and incentives for states to include juvenile criminal records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ( NICS, for its acronym in English) which would provide a more complete background check for those who want to buy weapons between the ages of 18 and 21.
The bill makes significant changes to the process when someone ages 18 to 21 goes to buy a firearm. It also closes the couples loophole, a huge victory for Democrats who fought for it for a decade.
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Here is a breakdown of what this proposed legislation:
Invests US$ 750 million in crisis intervention programs
This money can be used to implement and administer early warning programs, known in English as “red flag programs.” The money can also be used for other crisis intervention programs, such as mental health courts, drug courts, and veterans courts.
This was a main sticking point at the end of the negotiations over whether this money could be used for things other than early warning laws. Republicans were able to secure money for states that don’t have such laws but do have other crisis intervention programs.
Ends the legal loophole for couples
This legislation closes a years-long loophole in domestic violence law that prohibited people convicted of domestic violence crimes against a married partner, a partner with whom they shared a child, or cohabited from owning a weapon.
The old statutes did not include other intimate partners who cannot live together, be married, or share children. Now, the law will prohibit anyone convicted of a crime of domestic violence against someone with whom they have a “continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature” from having a gun. The law is not retroactive.
This law, however, will allow those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors to have their gun rights restored after 5 years if they have committed no other crimes. That’s a key concession for Republicans.
More gun dealers will be required to register as federally licensed firearms dealers
The bill goes after people who sell guns as their primary source of income, but have previously evaded registering as a federally licensed firearms dealer. This is important because federally licensed dealers are required to run background checks before selling a gun to anyone.
Improves review process for buyers ages 18-21
The bill encourages states to include juvenile criminal records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with grants and implements a new protocol for checking those records. It gives the NICS three days to review a person’s file.
If someone potentially disqualifying comes up, NICS gets an extra 7 days. The process cannot take more than 10 days. If the review is not completed by then, the arms transfer takes place.
Creates new federal statutes against arms trafficking and false trafficking
It makes it easier to go after gun buyers for people who are not allowed to buy guns on their own.
Increases funding for mental health and school safety programs
This money is directed at a number of programs, many of which already exist but would be more robustly funded under this law.
Clare Foran, Lauren Fox, and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.