A bipartisan group of senators just released the legislative text for a new bill to enact tougher gun restrictions.
The bill enacts the most significant new gun restrictions since the 1990s, including closing the "boyfriend loophole."
Congress could send the bill to President Biden's desk as soon as this week.
A bipartisan group of senators unveiled the "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act" on Tuesday, a new bill that would enact the most significant new federal gun restrictions since the 1990s.
House Democratic leaders have also made clear that they're likely to support the bill, and proponents hope to pass it through both chambers and send it to President Joe Biden's desk before Congress goes on recess for the July 4th holiday.
It comes after major mass shootings, including at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, spurred new interest in preventing gun violence.
The group, led by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, previously announced a framework last week outlining the contours of the bill.
But senators working on the deal encountered hiccups when working to close the so-called "boyfriend loophole," which prevents convicted domestic abusers from owning a gun only if they lived with, were married to, or had a child with their victim.
"This doesn't limit law-abiding gun owners' rights. Unless someone is convicted of domestic abuse under their state laws, their gun rights will not be impacted," Cornyn said on the Senate floor shortly before the text was released. "Those who are convicted of non-spousal misdemeanor domestic abuse — not felony, but misdemeanor domestic violence — will have an opportunity after five years to have their Second Amendment rights restored. But they have to have a clean record."
Additionally, Cornyn was loudly booed for his work on the gun bill by members of his own party at a Texas GOP convention on Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed the framework last week, and ten Republican senators have already announced their support for the framework, increasing the chances that the bill would survive a filibuster and clear the Senate's 60-vote threshold.
Here's what's in the text of the bill. Full legislative text can be found here.
Support for state-level "red flag" laws
"Red flag" laws give authorities and courts the power to temporarily confiscate a gun from individuals if they are deemed to pose an immediate threat to themselves or others.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have some form of red flag laws.
The bill allocates $750 million to support states and tribes in enacting crisis intervention programs.
"We just saw Connecticut's Red Flag Law be used, just in the last month or so, to take weapons away from a young man who was making threats to shoot up schools," said Murphy on the Senate floor on Tuesday. He said that instance of the law's use potentially saved "dozens of lives."
New investments in community behavioral health centers
The bill allocates $250 million to support community behavioral health centers, freeing up new federal money for states to set up new centers for treating addiction and other mental health issues.
That provision was adopted from a previous bipartisan bill put forward by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. In a statement last year, they said that these clinics already serve 1.5 million people across 300 communities in 40 states.
Closing the 'boyfriend loophole'
The bill includes convicted domestic violence abusers and other individuals who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders in a national criminal background check system, closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole."
Patrick Perion, a child protection specialist with the Department of Children and Family Services in Illinois, recently told Insider that the boyfriend loophole was present in all of the intimate partner violence cases that he's investigated when children and guns were involved.
"We have good evidence that tells us that separating people who are violent toward their intimate partners from guns when they are subject to a domestic violence restraining order makes a difference in terms of victim safety," Shannon Frattaroli, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Insider.
Funding for school-based mental health services
The bill allocates $5 million for the fiscal years of 2023 and 2024 toward mental health and support services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs.
Funding for school safety and security
The bill allocates $100 million toward increasing security at schools, along with programs that are "interrupting cycles of violence in our communities," according to Murphy.
Clarifying the definition of a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer
The bill also seeks to clarify who and what is defined as a federally licensed firearms dealer.
"One of the individuals who sold a weapon to a mass shooter in Odessa, Texas, should have been licensed as a federal dealer," noted Murphy on the Senate floor ahead of the bill's release. "But he wasn't, and he sold the gun to a person who was prohibited from buying the gun because of his mental health history, without a background check."
Investments in telehealth
The bill will also allocate $8 million — with $50 million in grants — toward increasing access to mental and behavioral health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth, or consultations with medical professionals via phone and video calls.
Enhanced background checks for gun buyers under age 21
The bill also includes greater scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21, requiring them to go through a review process that would include a call to the local police department and take up to 3 days.
"What we know is that the profile of the modern mass shooter is often in the 18 to 21 year old range," said Murphy.
New penalties for straw gun purchasing and a federal ban on gun trafficking
The bill enacts a new federal ban on gun trafficking, as well as penalties for straw gun purchases — when an individual has someone else buy a gun on their behalf, avoiding the necessary paperwork.
"This is incredibly important for our cities. We have a flow of illegal guns that come into the cities," said Murphy. "And yet, for decades, for some reason, Congress has not given our federal authorities the ability to interrupt these gun-running rings because we have no effective ban at the federal level on trafficking."
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