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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Democrats and Republicans reach first agreement on US gun control in decades

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A group of 10 Democratic Senators and 10 Republicans reached an agreement on Tuesday that encourages greater control over guns in the United States. The text that resulted from this pact represents the first consensus on the matter between the two parties in decades and, if finally approved by the House of Lords, will make it possible to end its use by people with criminal records or those with mental health problems. It will also increase federal investment in prevention and expand protections for victims of gender-based violence. Previously, for this reason, the convicts could not own weapons. This ban only affected those who were married to their victims. It is the so-called “Boyfriend’s Legal Loophole” and was one of the aspects that sparked most debates between both parties.

The 80-page text was published in the afternoon, hours later the first vote (64-34) took place, providing the Senate’s impetus to proceed with its editing. The final regulation could be passed as early as next Saturday.

The agreement is the result of several weeks of negotiations sparked by the recent spate of armed violence, which included a massacre in Buffalo, New York, carried out by an 18-year-old armed with a gun attack, on racial grounds appeared in a supermarket in the east of the city and killed 10 African Americans, as well as for the murder of another 18-year-old boy by 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde (Texas). Both events caused great social uproar and the vigorous response of President Joe Biden, who in a State of the Union address urged Congress to act on the matter after decades of inaction, though chaining one mass shooting to another.

Between what Biden and members of his party wanted (among other things: raising the legal age to buy guns from 18 to 21 and banning assault rifles and high-powered cartridges) and what this handful of senators, led by Democrat Chris Murphy (Connecticut) and the Republican John Cornyn (Texas) are clearly apart. But they have no choice but to come to terms. Achieving even the smallest compromise on this issue — which affects the Second Amendment, which recognizes the right to bear arms and is one of the red lines of the conservative electorate — requires 60 votes in the Senate, due to demands of filibustering, which qualify majorities for important legislation requires.

The Democratic Party has only 50 seats (a figure that looks set to fall after next November’s general election), and typically fails even to get all of its members to vote in the same way. The final test came with the recent attempt to get a rule out of the House of Lords to regulate the use of weapons. Senator Joe Manchin III. from West Virginia, who tends to think outside the bounds imposed by the discipline of his formation, opposed the initiative.

The new bill proposes to improve background checks and give authorities up to 10 business days to review mental health and juvenile delinquency records of shoppers under the age of 21. It also provides federal funding to help states enforce so-called “red flag laws,” which allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous. The measure also includes, for the first time, a ban on couples convicted of sexist violence buying guns or pistols.

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A race against the clock awaits lawmakers to pass the text before the Senate takes its vacation to celebrate the Fourth of July. Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised the House of Representatives to act quickly. Biden, who as a senator succeeded in enacting the country’s last restrictive gun law in 1994, said he supports the initiative and plans to sign the new standard. “The sooner it gets on my desk, the sooner I can sign it and the sooner we can begin these life-saving actions,” Biden said in a June 12 statement.

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Source elpais.com

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