US Senate backed gun deal despite flaws

The horror of two recent killings in the United States has led Republican and Democratic senators to agree on a series of measures to restrict access to guns in the country, a rare step that despite its shortcomings enjoys the support of anti-gun activists.

US Senate backed gun deal despite flaws

The horror of two recent killings in the United States has led Republican and Democratic senators to agree on a series of measures to restrict access to guns in the country, a rare step that despite its shortcomings enjoys the support of anti-gun activists.

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The agreement announced Sunday between twenty senators seeks in particular to limit access to weapons for people deemed dangerous and provides for the funding of programs dedicated to mental health.

The rallying to the project of ten Republican senators suggests that such a bill has a real chance of passing in the Senate, if all of the 50 elected Democrats are in favor of it.

A qualified majority of 60 votes out of 100 senators is indeed necessary for its adoption, which has so far blocked any major progress towards a better regulation of firearms, due to the opposition of the conservatives.

“This project will save lives. If it passes and becomes law, it will reduce the risk of killings and deadly violence in families, "said Democratic Senator Chris Coons, one of the leaders of this parliamentary initiative launched after the Uvalde massacre. which left 21 dead, including 19 children in a Texas elementary school, at the end of May.

According to Mr. Coons, the bill could be submitted to Congress in a few days and passed in early July.

Measures at minimum

The proposed measures are modest, far from those demanded by President Joe Biden after the Uvalde massacre and the racist massacre in a Buffalo supermarket where 10 African-Americans perished.

They include strengthening criminal and psychological background checks for gun buyers between the ages of 18 and 21; better control of illegal arms sales; funding for various psychological support and assistance programs; increased safety in schools, including through teacher training; and federal government support for state-by-state laws that would take the guns they possess out of the hands of those deemed dangerous.

They are far from meeting the expectations of activists for better regulation of firearms, who plead for the return of the ban on assault rifles - in force from 1994 to 2004 -, the ban on large capacity magazines and the sale of weapons to those under 21 or the obligation for individuals to keep their weapons locked up.

Moreover, whatever the achievements of this new legislation, they could be called into question by a decision of the Supreme Court expected before the end of June.

This could thus affirm that Americans have a right to carry a firearm outside their home, complicating the efforts of States which try to limit their circulation in public spaces.

"Break the Deadlock"

Associations for stricter firearm regulation have nevertheless welcomed the measures envisaged.

“We applaud this historic advance in gun violence prevention – born out of the realization that this country needs change and action to save the lives of Americans from preventable violence,” said Kris Brown, President. of the Brady Campaign.

"We're breaking the deadlock in Congress," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

Proponents of the bill, however, have doubts about its passage, which can be blocked if fewer than 10 of the 50 Republican senators support it.

But the fact that none of the ten Republicans who signed the agreement on Sunday is standing in the legislative elections in November plays in favor of the text.

The twenty senators "are committed to each other and to this project," said Chris Coons.

The very powerful arms lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has a strong influence on the Republican Party, has for its part made known its total opposition to these measures.

"The NRA will continue to oppose all efforts to insert restrictions on access to weapons...and to deprive law-abiding citizens of their basic right to self-protection in this law or any other what else,” said the organization.

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