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What is included in the bipartisan Safer Communities act?

A new bill to tackle gun crime could make its way through Congress before the Summer recess and has the backing of both parties.

Protestors hold signs and listen to speakers during the March For Our Lives: Los Angeles protest calling for action and change on gun violence.
MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty ImagesGetty

A new bill aimed at addressing part of the gun violence in the US has just passed the procedural step of its journey through Congress. After the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, there has been a renewed push by politicians on both sides of the aisle to attempt to prevent further tragedy.

“I believe that as senators see the text that supports those principles they will see we’ve tried our best to be true to what we said those agreed principles should be,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the GOP’s lead negotiator, said Tuesday evening before the release of the bill text. “I’m confident this legislation moves us in the positive direction.”

What is included in the bill?

The bill has a number of provisions that the sponsors hope will go some way of addressing the rampant gun crime in the US.

Mental health is front and centre of the bill, having an extra $11 billion given to fund it. Included in this are so-called “red flag” laws that allow the courts to remove guns from the hands of people that are threatening to kill themselves or others. Similarly, there are longer background checks for under 21s, lasting a minimum of three days in what Senator Chris Murphy described as a “cooling off” period.

Partners who have a proven history of domestic violence will also have more restrictions on the ownership of firearms.

In terms of criminal threats, the bill also includes the first “comprehensive” criminal state banning gun trafficking. With this in mind, there is further clarification of who needs to register as a federal firearms dealer in a bid to keep better track of guns in circulation.

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Whether these changes are enough remain to be seen. In order to gain enough support to pass, many may think the bill is only a plaster over an open wound.

How likely is the bill to be passed?

The bill would need at least 60 votes in the Senate to avoid the filibuster. However, the organisers of the bill, Senators Murphy and Cornyn, say it already has the support of enough Republicans to take it over the threshold. A factor in this will have been the endorsement by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of the bill.

“I support the bill text that Sen. Cornyn and our colleagues have produced,” McConnell said, “Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”


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