US senators unveiled a bill Tuesday addressing the epidemic of gun violence plaguing the country as they locked down a narrow set of reforms nevertheless hailed as the first significant federal firearms controls in a generation.
The cross-party group that had been working for weeks on the wording of the legislation voiced confidence that it would have enough support on both sides of the aisle to reach President Joe Biden‘s desk as soon as next week.
“This bipartisan gun-safety legislation is progress and will save lives. While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently-needed,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
The lawmakers had been up against the clock — aware that a delay risked killing the sense of urgency ignited by the fatal shooting of 19 children in Uvalde, Texas and of 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, upstate New York, both in May.
The last significant federal gun control legislation was passed in 1994, banning the manufacture for civilian use of assault rifles and large capacity ammunition clips.
But it expired a decade later and there has been no serious effort at reform since, despite the daily average of mass shootings rising to 11 this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The bipartisan group of senators agreed on a framework on June 12 that includes enhanced background checks for buyers aged under 21 and funding for mental health and school safety programs.
The blueprint also calls for funding to incentivize states to implement “red flag” laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat.