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The bipartisan gun bill on track to pass the Senate before the July 4 recess doesn’t go nearly as far as many liberal gun control groups would like, but they’re supporting it anyway, saying it’s an important step to reduce shootings.
“This package is not perfect. It doesn’t go as far as we would like. But it is an incredibly meaningful step forward,” Christian Heyne, Brady United vice president for policy, said in an interview with Fox News Digital. “A month ago, I would have said that a package like this would have been impossible.”
Heyne credited Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., for ignoring many people who believed the same thing and pressing forward on negotiations with Republicans anyway.
After weeks of talks led by Murphy and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, senators released the text of a bill Tuesday night, and it cleared a test vote in the Senate hours later.
The Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school triggered serious Senate negotiations on gun legislation. (AP/Eric Gay)
Officially titled the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” the bill would provide funding for states to create programs that could keep weapons away from people who are a danger to themselves or others, often called red flag laws. It would also enhance background checks for gun buyers under age 21, add penalties for some gun criminals and provide funding for a variety of health- and mental health-related programs.
The bill comes in the wake of several recent mass shootings, including one in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school.
“We know that this bill is going to save lives” said Robin Lloyd, managing director of Giffords, another gun control group. She told Fox News Digital the bill is a “historic moment in bipartisan cooperation on the issue of gun safety.”
Lloyd lauded the $750 million in federal funding proposed for red flag laws. That money can also be used for other types of interventions aimed at the same goal, including drug courts and mental health courts.
Brady United Vice President for Policy Christian Heyne credited Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., shown above, for pressing for a major gun package even when it appeared there was little GOP appetite for one. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The bill also closes the so-called boyfriend loophole to include “dating partners” in the definition of domestic abusers excluded from owning guns under federal law. Current law only applies to spouses.
Lloyd said that while the Senate bill does not go nearly as far as liberal gun control groups like Giffords would like, there is “a lot of good” in it.
“We don’t advocate and work on legislation in a vacuum,” she said. “To get the bill through the Senate … concessions were made on both sides.”
“I’m surprised at all of the policies” that made it into the bill, Heyne said. “With the understanding that … where these negotiations started was that universal background checks was off the table — universal background checks that we know 90% [of Americans] approve.”
Several other liberal gun groups said Wednesday they support the bill too.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, arrives to meet with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., for more bipartisan talks on how to rein in gun violence at the Capitol in Washington June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“This bipartisan legislation meets the most important test: It will save lives,” Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said. “The bill text lives up to the framework released last week, and we now move one big step closer to breaking the 26-year logjam that has blocked congressional action to protect Americans from gun violence.”
“Our grassroots army has been demanding action from the Senate for nearly a decade, and today we’re one step closer to making history and ultimately saving lives,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts added.
Conservative opponents of the bill say that the legislation threatens Second Amendment rights. They point to the red flag law provisions and the boyfriend loophole provision as elements that could be abused without proper due process protections.
“In an effort to slowly chip away at law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights, this legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said in a whip notice.
House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said the bill “shreds the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans with no effect on deterring criminals.”
Tyler Olson covers politics for Fox News Digital. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @TylerOlson1791.