Monday Jun 05, 2023

Senators agree on bipartisan safety measures



American senators have struck a bipartisan deal to increase gun safety – but the reforms fall far short of those called for by grief-stricken parents, activists and the president.

The law changes would mean tougher background checks for people under the age of 21 who buy a firearm.

Domestic violence perpetrators who are in a relationship – not just those who are married – would also be banned from buying a gun.

States would also receive funding to implement so-called ‘red flag’ laws, which are meant to stop people who are a danger to themselves or others, from accessing firearms.

The moves come after a teen gunman in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24, 10 days after another gunman murdered 10 Black people in a Buffalo supermarket.

Those attacks were not out of the ordinary; Statistics show that an average of 53 people die by firearm every day in the US. 

One of the homicides on recent days was on Friday when a gunman opened fire on his co-workers at a factory in Maryland, killing at least three people and critically wounding a fourth.

The bipartisan deal passed on Monday morning (Australian time) marks a significant step toward ending a congressional impasse on gun law reform.

Recent shootings, including the deaths of innocent schoolchildren, have led to widespread protests including on Saturday when tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of Washington DC.

“Today, we are announcing a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the 20 senators said in a joint statement.

“Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.”

President Joe Biden urged lawmakers to pass the proposals quickly, saying there are “no excuses” for delay.

Mr Biden also made it clear that the changes did not go as far as he wanted. He wants a ban on assault rifles or at least a ban on young people purchasing those weapons.

“Obviously, it does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades,” Mr Biden said.

Ten Republicans and 10 Democrats put forward the proposed measures.


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