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Senate OKs Enhanced Background Checks in Bipartisan Gun Accord


The Senate has approved bipartisan legislation aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people, reports the New York Times, and other media outlets. The House was set to vote on the $13 billion package Friday,

The bill would enhance background checks for prospective gun buyers ages 18 to 21, requiring for the first time that juvenile records, including mental health records beginning at age 16, be vetted for potentially disqualifying material.

It would also provide incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws that allow guns to be temporarily confiscated from people deemed by a judge to be too dangerous to possess them, tighten a federal ban on domestic abusers buying firearms, and strengthen laws against straw purchasing and trafficking of guns.

It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for mental health programs and to beef up security in schools.

The compromise, however, does omit many of the sweeping gun control measures that Democrats and activists have long called for, including a House-passed measure that would prohibit the sale of semiautomatic rifles to people younger than 21, a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines and a federal red flag law.

The measure, which some called the most significant gun control effort in Congress in  nearly three decades, passed 65 to 33. Some 15 Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, voted in support.

“Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was quoted as saying in The Wall Street Journal.

He said Republicans had to agree to some things in the legislation “that were outside of our comfort zone, that frankly we’re having to explain to people.”

But he added that the potential to save lives “is worth any sort of concession we might have had to make during negotiations.”

The enhanced background checks for younger buyers would also expire after a decade, just as the assault weapons ban did in 2004.

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