June 23, 2022

GOP and Senate Democrat negotiators divided on details of gun deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic and Republican senators disagreed on Thursday over how to keep guns from dangerous people as negotiators worked to finalize details of a gun violence compromise in time for their date. self-imposed limit to hold votes in Congress next week.

Lawmakers said they remained divided on how to define abusive dating partners who would be legally barred from buying guns. Disagreements have also not been resolved over proposals to send money to states that have “red flag” laws that allow authorities to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed dangerous by the courts, and to other states for their own violence prevention programs.

The election-year talks appear to be heading for a deal, with both sides fearful of voter punishment if Congress doesn’t respond to the carnage of last month’s mass shootings. A total of 31 people were killed at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. A preview of a deal was endorsed by President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a top GOP negotiator, looked visibly disgruntled as he left Thursday’s closed session after nearly two hours, saying he was going home.

“That’s the hardest part because at some point you just have to make a decision. And when people don’t want to make a decision, you can’t achieve the result. And that’s kind of where we are in right now,” Cornyn said.

“I’m not frustrated, I’m done,” he added, although he said he was open to further discussions.

Lawmakers said a deal must be reached and drafted into legislative language by the end of the week if Congress is to vote next week. He begins a hiatus on July 4 after that. Leaders want votes by then because Washington has long talked about responding to mass shootings, only to see interest from lawmakers and voters quickly fade over time.

Other negotiators sounded more optimistic, saying much of the overall package had been agreed and aides were drafting the bill’s language.

“A deal like this is tough,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said at the end of the meeting. “It comes with a lot of emotion, it comes with political risk for both parties. But we are close enough to make it happen.

The measure would impose only small-scale restrictions on firearms. Missing are proposals from Biden and Democrats to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in Buffalo and Uvalde, or to raise the legal age to purchase assault rifles from 18. at 21 years old.

Even so, it would be the strongest Congressional ruling against gun violence since 1993. A ban lawmakers enacted that year on assault weapons went into effect in 1994 and expired after a decade. Since then, dozens of high-profile mass shootings have yielded little in Washington but partisan gridlock, largely due to Republicans blocking virtually all new restrictions.

Federal law prohibits those convicted of domestic violence against a spouse from acquiring firearms, but leaves a loophole for other romantic relationships. Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates gun control, says 31 states ban convicted domestic abusers from buying guns, including 19 that cover abusive dating partners.

Senators disagree on how to define those relationships, with Republicans working against a blanket provision. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, the other chief GOP negotiator, said negotiators would use certain state laws as a guide, though their laws vary.

“You have to make sure you capture everyone who actually beat” their girlfriends, said Murphy, a Democrat.

Additionally, 19 states and the District of Columbia have “red flag” laws. Cornyn and the other lead negotiator, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, represent states that don’t, and it’s unclear how the bill money would be split between them.

The senators did not specify an overall price for the measure, although people who followed the talks said they expected it to be around $15 or $20 billion. Lawmakers are seeking budget cuts to pay for these costs.

Twenty senators, 10 from each party, agreed on the outlines of a compromise measure last weekend. Top negotiators have since worked to translate it into detail.

The framework includes access to juvenile records of firearm buyers between the ages of 18 and 20. The two shooters from Buffalo and Uvalde were 18 years old and both used AR-15 style rifles, which can load large capacity magazines.

The plan also includes additional spending on mental health and school safety programs, tougher penalties for gun trafficking and requirements for a few more gun dealers to obtain federal business licenses. fire arms.

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