Will the Senate’s Bipartisan Agreement on Gun Control Be Enough to Finally Reduce Gun Violence?

Last week, a group of senators- 10 Democrats, 10 republicans-reached a bipartisan agreement on gun safety that could lead to new federal firearms regulations, including increasing funding for mental health and school security.

The agreement includes incentivizing more states to pass “ red-flag laws,” legislation designed to permit law enforcement or family members to petition courts for temporary firearm removal if individuals pose potential danger to themselves or others.

Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C. have red flag laws.

Closing domestic violence loopholes are also on the table by extending current laws barring convicted felons and those convicted of domestic violence to abusive dating partners with domestic violence convictions or restraining orders, colloquially referred to as the “boyfriend loophole.”

Clamping down on straw purchases-purchasing a firearm for someone else-and gun trafficking are in it as well, as is clarifying the definition of a “federally licensed firearms dealer,” which present law defines as “a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.”

Excluded are those who occasionally sell firearms or sell them as a hobby.

While the bipartisan agreement does not included language about universal background checks, some argue tightening the language about what constitutes a federally licensed dealer is a significant step forward.

Also agreed upon is increasing funding for school safety and mental health services wherein states would be able to receive funding for “Certified Community Behavioral Clinics” for mental health and substance abuse services.

This agreement does not, however, address the fact that more than one-third of Americans live in areas in dire need of mental health professionals.

More than 7,000 additional health providers would be needed to rectify this shortage.

Praising the bipartisan negotiation, vice president of the gun control group, Brady, Christian Heyne, explained:

“We have not seen the likes of a framework like what we see in this package for the last 30 years. And I think it’s significant not only because of how this can have a real impact on lives, but to me it feels like a moment in time and a sign of things to come, right? This is sort of testing ground that we can pass bipartisan gun laws and the sky won’t fall. And for all of those reasons, I think that this agreement is really important.”

Brady President Kris Brown tweeted:

While bipartisan support on just about anything today, let alone gun legislation, should celebrated, some are arguing this framework is mere tokenism.

Some experts argue the agreement’s limited provisions wouldn’t have prevented the Uvalde, Texas Robb Elementary School shooting last month.

One reason for that is the agreement does not include reinstating an assault weapons ban like the one in effect from 1994 to 2004 that reduced mass shootings 43%.

Along with that is no mention of altering gun buyers’ required minimum age to purchase assault-style weapons.

There is heavy emphasis on republicans’ “mental health” excuse du-jour, though, despite the fact that the United States does not hold a monopoly on mental illness.

Other countries have mentally ill people too, but no other country has our number of guns and gun deaths.

All countries the world over average 9.86 guns per 100 civilians.

The United States, though?

120.5 guns per 100 people.

Most Americans, even gun owners, agree with stricter gun control measures.

But not the base of the modern-day republican party pulling the majorities’ strings.

A CBS and YouGov survey administered to 2,021 American adults between June 1st through 3rd, one week after the Uvalde, Texas Robb Elementary School massacre, found 44%- nearly half of respondents identifying as republicans-feel we should accept mass shootings as the price of living in a free society.

The “MAGA” reaction to last week’s bipartisan framework?

Just as we’ve come to expect.

Texas republican senator John Cornyn, one of the 10 GOP members to work with Democrats, said:

“Look at all the things that President Biden said he wanted — none of that’s in there.”

By dint of just working with Democrats, Cornyn is being vilified.

Here he getting booed trying to address Texas republicans at their state convention:

Is this negotiation better than nothing?

Certainly.

But mass shootings will not end in the United States of America unless we pass comprehensive gun control legislation that includes tightening and re-signing the Assault Weapons Ban, passing national universal background checks, and requiring prospective gun owners to undergo training and certification that includes viewing images of the damage guns do.

We need to treat owning guns like owning cars.

From manufacture to destruction, cars are required to maintain chains of ownership through titles.

That way state DMVs and law enforcement agencies know from year to year who owns the vehicles should they be involved in accidents or crimes.

While vehicles have the potential to kill people, killing is not their reason to existence.

But it is the reason guns exist.

We insure vehicles to protect ourselves and others in the event they are involved in accidents.

But we aren’t required to insure guns.

We require drivers’ licenses to prove proficiency.

But we don’t with guns.

As progressive radio personality and author Thom Hartmann wrote:

“When you buy a gun, it gets registered with the state. Every year that registration is renewed for a small fee that covers the expenses to the state of gun injuries, gun suicides and homicides. If you lose or sell that gun, just like if your car gets stolen or sold, you immediately notify the state. Having or using a gun that is unregistered would be just as much an offense as trying to drive an unregistered car on the freeway.

“State DMV’s could easily expand their services to include a written test and a shooting range, so people who want to become gun owners can demonstrate that they understand the laws in the state, common-sense gun ownership practices, and have a level of proficiency that makes it far less likely they will accidentally kill themselves or others.

“This could even be a revenue source for the states, and while a gun shop could sell you a gun without a shooter’s license, they wouldn’t let you leave the premises with it until you get your license.”

“Free-market” libertarians and republicans should love this since “it would create a whole new marketplace for the insurance industry, which has done very, very well over the years with car insurance.”

None of these proposals runs afoul of the sacrosanct Second Amendment that was written in 1791 to protect slave patrols and is the only right required to be “well-regulated.”

Originally published at https://theleftplace.substack.com on June 21, 2022.

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