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

A group of 10 Democratic senators and 10 Republicans reached an agreement on Tuesday that promotes greater control over weapons in the United States. The text that emerged from that pact represents the first consensus in decades on the matter between both parties and will allow, if it is finally approved by the Upper House, to put an end to its use by people with criminal records or with mental health problems. It will also increase federal investment in prevention, and expand protection for victims of gender-based violence. Until now, those convicted for this reason could not possess weapons. That prohibition affected only those united in marriage with their victims. It is what was known as the “boyfriend’s legal loophole” and has been one of the aspects that has sparked the most debate between both parties.

The 80-page text was released in the afternoon, and hours later the first vote (64-34) took place, which represents the impulse of the Senate to continue its processing. The final rule could be approved as soon as this coming Saturday.

The agreement is the result of several weeks of negotiations instigated by the latest wave of armed violence, which has included a massacre in Buffalo, in the State of New York, carried out by an 18-year-old who, armed with a rifle assault, showed up at a supermarket in the East of the city moved by racist motivations and killed 10 African Americans, and for the murder at the hands of another 18-year-old boy of 19 students and two teachers of an elementary school in Uvalde (Texas) . Both events caused a great social commotion and the energetic reaction of the president, Joe Biden, who in a speech to the nation demanded that Congress take action on the matter, after decades of inaction, despite chaining a mass shooting with the next.

Between what Biden and members of his party wanted (among other measures: raising the legal age to buy weapons from 18 to 21 years old and banning assault rifles and high-capacity cartridges) and what that handful of Senators, led by Democrat Chris Murphy (Connecticut) and Republican John Cornyn (Texas) are a notable distance apart. But they have no choice but to settle. To carry out the smallest compromise on the issue —which affects the Second Amendment, which recognizes the right to use weapons and is one of the red lines of the conservative electorate—, 60 votes are needed in the Senate, due to the demands of filibustering, that calls for qualified majorities to carry out important laws.

The Democratic Party only has 50 seats (an amount that everything indicates will fall after the legislative elections next November), and it does not even usually manage to get all its members to vote in the same way. The last test came with the latest attempt to get a rule out of the upper house to regulate the use of weapons. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who tends to think outside the limits set by the discipline of his formation, took a position against the initiative.

The new bill proposes to improve background checks, giving authorities up to 10 business days to review the mental health and juvenile delinquency records of buyers under the age of 21. It also provides federal funds to help states enforce so-called “red flag laws,” which allow authorities to temporarily seize guns from people deemed dangerous. The measure also includes, for the first time, the prohibition that couples convicted of sexist violence buy rifles or pistols.

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A race against the clock awaits lawmakers to pass the text, before the Senate takes its vacation in time to celebrate the 4th of July. Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised the House will act quickly. Biden, who when he was a senator managed to get the last restrictive law on the use of weapons in the country in 1994, has said that he supports the initiative and that he plans to sign the new law. “The sooner it gets to my desk, the sooner I can sign it, and the sooner we can put these life-saving measures into place,” Biden said in a June 12 statement.

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