Senate deal on gun curbs is a start, but much more needs to be done

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
  • Senate bargainers have reached the framework for a bipartisan response to last month’s mass shootings.
  • The proposal would offer funds to bolster school safety and mental health programs.
  • The proposal would not ban assault-style weapons or high-capacity magazines.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a protest near Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022, sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action. Protesters are demanding that Congress act on gun safety issues. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

It’s not the best outcome.

It’s not even close to the best outcome.

It is, however, at least a small step forward, and in this partisan, divisive atmosphere, it’s probably the best we can get.

Sunday, it was announced that Senate bargainers had reached the framework for a bipartisan response to last month’s mass shootings.

The best news about this latest development is that there is support from both sides of the aisle. Twenty senators, including 10 Republicans, released a joint statement calling for passage. There’s hope that any potential agreement can be quickly converted into law, hopefully this month, before the political momentum fades.

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Yes, it’s a limited breakthrough, offering modest gun curbs and stepped-up efforts to improve school safety and mental health programs.

Those are all positive moves.

Falling far short of what is needed: Unfortunately, the framework falls far short of tougher steps long sought by President Joe Biden and many Democrats.

Still, the accord was embraced by the Biden administration and enactment would signal a significant reversal after years of gun massacres that have yielded little but Congressional stalemate.

One glaring omission from the agreement is the banning of assault-style firearms, such as the AR-15 style rifles used in recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. The agreement also doesn’t address the raising of the legal age for buying such assault weapons or the availability of high-capacity magazines.

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There is absolutely no need for assault-style weapons for the general public. Those weapons should be reserved for the military and law enforcement. There is also no need for high-capacity magazines.

Unfortunately, the National Rifle Association and other members of the gun lobby are using their massive influence on conservative lawmakers to make those much-needed changes into nonstarters.

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What does it accomplish? So, what does the new framework accomplish? Here are some of the highlights:

It would make the juvenile records of gun buyers under 21 available when they undergo background checks.

It would offer money to states to enact and put in place “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily take guns from people considered potentially violent.

It would offer funds to bolster school safety and mental health programs.

It would require federal dealers’ licenses for some people who informally sell guns for profit. That means those dealers would have to conduct background checks of buyers.

It would bar the purchase of firearms by convicted domestic abusers who do not live with a former partner, such as estranged ex-boyfriends.

It would be a crime for a person to legally purchase a weapon for someone who would not qualify for ownership.

The bare minimum: Yes, those all seem like common-sense solutions to gun violence, but they are just first steps.

It is actually just the bare minimum of legislative action that needs to be done.

Unfortunately, it’s incredibly hard to pass real gun-control legislation.

In fact, the last major firearms restrictions enacted by lawmakers was the 1994 assault weapons ban, which Congress, in an act of blatant irresponsibility, allowed to expire 10 years later.

It also appears that we can’t expect any help on the issue from Pennsylvania legislators, where Republicans are working feverishly to bottle up any potential gun-control bills.

So, it’s up to Congress, and at long last, our Congressmen appear ready to enact some form gun violence legislation.

It’s not the best outcome, but it’s probably the best result we can get.