Almost three weeks after the massacre at a Texas elementary school, a bipartisan group in the US Senate has agreed on proposals for better protection against gun violence. This includes, among other things, a more intensive screening of potential gun buyers under the age of 21, as the majority leader of the US Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer, announced on Sunday.
The ban on assault rifles demanded by US President Joe Biden and other Democrats is not planned. Biden said the proposals don’t include all the measures he thinks are needed, but are a step in the right direction.
Schumer’s statement said the proposals also aim to expand state laws allowing for the confiscation of guns from potentially dangerous individuals. Illegal arms trade should be punishable at the federal level.
In addition, “our nation’s mental health crisis” should be addressed. Republicans, in particular, argue that the rise in gun attacks is due to a rise in mental illness, not the ready availability of guns in the United States.
On May 24, an 18-year-old shot dead 19 children and two teachers with an assault rifle in an elementary school in the small Texas town of Uvalde. Biden later criticized the fact that Senate Republicans were “ruthless” in blocking any tightening of gun laws.
A few days ago, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would raise the age limit for buying assault rifles from 18 to 21. The proposal by the ten Democratic and Republican senators on Sunday falls far behind.
“Today we are announcing a sensible, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across the country,” the 20 senators said in a joint statement. The plan will save lives while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.