Politics

Senators unveil long-awaited text for bipartisan gun safety legislation

(CNN) — A group of senators released the text Tuesday evening for a bipartisan gun safety bill, a key moment for the high stakes effort to pass legislation to counter gun violence in a highly polarized political climate.

Release of the bill text comes after days of lawmakers haggling over several sticking points, raising questions over whether it would ever be finalized or if the effort would fall apart. Lawmakers will now have to race the clock before the Senate departs for the July Fourth recess in an attempt to get the bill passed out of the chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday evening he would move quickly to bring up the bill “with an initial procedural vote as soon as tonight.” He added, “following that, we will move to final passage as quickly as possible.”

  • NOTABLE: Indiana’s U.S. Sen. Todd Young was one of 14 GOP senators who voted to advance the compromise gun legislation Tuesday night. Sen. Mike Braun, also of Indiana, voted no.

The Senate is now expected to vote as early as Tuesday night on a procedural motion to begin debate on the legislation.

The bill — titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — was released by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

The Senate’s compromise legitimation on gun safety includes millions of dollars in investments in mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

It comes after the release earlier this month of an agreement in principle for a deal on bipartisan gun legislation, which notably had the backing of 10 Republican senators. At least 10 Republican senators will need to join with Democrats to back any gun bill for it to overcome a filibuster and pass in the Senate.

It is not yet clear how widespread GOP support will be for the measure now that legislative text is finalized, but in a key indicator of support from GOP leadership, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday evening he supports the bill.

“I support the bill text that Senator Cornyn and our colleagues have produced,” McConnell said in a statement.

Here’s what’s in the bipartisan gun safety bill

The Senate’s compromise legislation on gun safety unveiled on Tuesday includes money for school safety, mental health, state crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which would provide a more compressive background check for those between the ages of 18 and 21 who want to buy guns.

The highly anticipated legislation follows days of haggling by lawmakers over several sticking points that had raised questions over whether the negotiations would fall apart.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of senators had released an agreement in principle for a deal on bipartisan gun legislation, which notably had the backing of 10 Republican senators. At least 10 Republican senators will need to join Democrats in supporting the bill for it to overcome a filibuster and pass in the Senate.

Here is a breakdown of what’s in the bill.

$750 million to help states implement and run crisis intervention programs

This money can be used to implement and manage red flag programs, which are aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others. It also can be used for other crisis intervention programs like mental health courts, drug courts and veteran courts.

Whether the money could be used for things other than red flag laws was a primary sticking point at the end of the negotiations, and Republicans were able to secure money for states that don’t have red flag laws but have other crisis intervention programs.

Closing the so-called boyfriend loophole

This legislation closes a years-old loophole in domestic violence law that barred individuals who had been convicted of domestic violence crimes against spouses, or partners with whom they shared children or cohabitated with, from having guns. Old statutes didn’t include intimate partners who may not live together, be married or share children. The new bill would bar anyone who is convicted of a domestic violence crime against someone they have a “continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature” with from having a gun. The provision isn’t retroactive.

The bill, however, would allow those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to restore their gun rights after five years if they haven’t committed other crimes.

Requires more gun sellers to register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers

The bill goes after individuals who sell guns as primary sources of income but have previously evaded registering as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers. This is significant because federally licensed dealers are required to administer background checks before they sell a gun to someone.

More thorough reviews of people ages 18-21 who want to buy guns

The bill encourages states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system with grants, as well as implement a new protocol for checking those records. It gives NICS three days to review an individual’s record. If something potentially disqualifying comes up, NICS gets an additional seven days. If the review is not completed by then, the gun transfer goes through.

Creates new federal statutes against gun trafficking and straw trafficking

The legislation makes it easier to go after those who are buying guns for individuals who are not allowed to purchase weapons on their own.

Increases funding for mental health programs and school security

This money is directed to a series of programs, many of which already exist but would be funded more robustly under the new law.

What to watch next

This legislation largely reflects what was in the bipartisan framework last week, but includes some additional changes. The next major lift will be ensuring the 10 Republicans who backed the initial framework are still on board with the bill now that the text has been unveiled.