A group of 20 US senators released a bipartisan proposal Sunday to combat the nation’s epidemic of gun violence. The proposal, which includes 10 Republicans, 9 Democrats, and 1 independent, would expand access to mental health care nationwide and impose greater restrictions on the purchase of firearms.
The official statement brands the plan as “a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country.” Significantly, the proposal would provide resources to states to help limit the availability of firearms to individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, including convicted domestic abusers and those against whom a protection from abuse order has been filed. Additionally, the proposal aims to impose a review of the juvenile mental health records of any person under 21 who tries to purchase a weapon.
Most notably, however, is the plan’s emphasis on mental health. In proposes a “[n]ational expansion of community behavioral health center model; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community.” On top of this, it would also expand mental health resources in schools and increase the availability of telehealth.
The proposal comes amid a clamor for gun reform nationwide in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. Just last week, the House passed a set of reforms that, though comprehensive, is almost certainly doomed in the Senate, with similar efforts being made at the state level. But while more ambitious legislation might fail, the 10 Republicans attached to the proposal would be enough to pass it through the Senate filibusterer, suggesting some bipartisan appetite for reform.
In a statement Sunday, President Joe Biden said that while “it does not do everything that I think is needed…it reflects important steps in the right direction.”