‘Limited tightening’ agreement reached for gun control

Broader checks and prohibitions will be introduced

Republicans and Democrats have reached an agreement in the US Congress on limited tightening of the gun law. Although many Democrats do not think the measures go far enough, it is the first time since 1994 that a significant arms law has been passed.

The compromise on measures comes after the bloody attacks on a supermarket in Buffalo and a school in Texas. 10 and 21 people were killed, including 19 children. In both cases, the perpetrator was 18 years old and had legally obtained his weapon.

Both sides agree to a broader background check for gun buyers under the age of 21. ‘Red flags laws’ also make it easier to take weapons from confused or possibly violent persons and restrict gun ownership for more perpetrators of domestic violence.

In addition, more money is allocated for Suicide Prevention and other psychological assistance. More money is also being spent on school security. The proposal is supported by a group of ten Republicans, nine Democrats and an independent senator.

No AR-15 ban

The plans go much less far than the Democrats and a majority of American citizens want. They would have liked to see a total ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 used in both attacks, or at least a ban on their sale to young people.

Also, they would have wanted to limit the size of warehouses and introduce broader background checks for all weapon buyers. However, those plans have no chance in Congress, because the necessary supermajority of 60 senators is missing.

Democrats nevertheless respond moderately positively to this cautious cooperation. President Biden called it an important step in the right direction, although he also said that it “does not achieve everything I consider necessary”.

The NRA is more critical. The extra money for security and psychological help is welcome, but the organization rejects in principle any restriction on the constitutional right to bear arms.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, called the compromise “a significant advance on mental health and school safety, while respecting the Second Amendment”. He is hoping for broad support from his party.

Last weekend, there were protests in many places in the country for stricter gun laws. The Congressmen who have now reached a compromise hope to come up with bills before the summer, although the precise formulation of these will require further consultation.

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