20 bipartisan senators announce deal on gun legislation and mental health services

On Sunday, a bipartisan group of 20 senators announced an agreement on legislation including gun restrictions and mental health and school security investments in an effort to curb mass shootings. The 20 lawmakers — 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans — led by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced the package they said would “protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country.”  They wrote: “Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.” 

The agreed-upon package includes federal grants for state to create and administer so-called “red flag” laws, and further funds investment in children and family mental health services, expanding mental health and supportive services in schools and access to mental and behavioral health services via telehealth. The deal would also seek to tighten gun laws and requiring an investigative review period of juvenile and mental health records for people younger than 21 seeking to purchase a firearm.

Sixty votes are needed for passage in the Senate with the split 50-50 among Democrats and Republicans, and Vice President Kamela Harris casting the tie-breaking vote for the legislation.  President Biden showed support for the package, saying in a statement however that it “does not do everything that I think is needed.  With bipartisan support, there are no excuses for delay, and no reason why it should not quickly move through the Senate and the House. Each day that passes, more children are killed in this country: the sooner it comes to my desk, the sooner I can sign it, and the sooner we can use these measures to save lives.”

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