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Senate clears procedural hurdle for gun control legislation

Senators reach bipartisan deal on gun reform framework 01:41

The Senate on Tuesday night cleared a procedural vote to move forward with gun control legislation, following weeks of negotiations. 

The deal has had the backing of a group of bipartisan senators, including the 10 Republicans it would need to pass. Top Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said they're aiming to pass the bill this week, and the Senate will stay in town until it's done. If it passes both chambers of Congress, the legislation would be the first major gun reform legislation in decades. 

The bill's text was released Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader McConnell said he supported the text. 

"For years, the far left falsely claimed that Congress could only address the terrible issue of mass murders by trampling on law-abiding Americans' constitutional rights. This bill proves that false," he said. "Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens." 

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas were the two top negotiators. 

The bill takes action on the so-called "boyfriend loophole," meaning dating partners convicted of domestic violence will lose their ability to purchase a gun. Convicted individuals may earn their right to own a gun back five years later, but they can lose that right if they reoffend. It was called the "boyfriend loophole" because only abusers who were married to or were domestic partners of victims were banned from buying guns, not those in a dating relationship.

"After decades of trying, we're finally closing the boyfriend loophole," Murphy tweeted. "That means that if you assault your girlfriend or your ex-girlfriend, you lose your ability to buy or own a gun. You can get your rights back, but years later, only for one time, non-repeat offenders."

The bill also funds the implementation of crisis intervention orders in all states, including for so-called "red flag" laws. Red flag laws allow courts to temporarily remove guns from people threatening to kill others or themselves. 

Under this measure, a longer background check process would be required for those under 21 years old and would include calls to local authorities to see if the young adult is in crisis. 

Less contentious parts of the bill also boost mental health resources, provide funding for school safety and stricter penalties on criminals who illegally traffic guns, among other things. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday night that if the bill is passes by the Senate, the House will "swiftly bring it to the floor so that we can send it to President Biden's desk."

President Biden told reporters Tuesday afternoon he's been briefed on the legislative proposal.

The agreement follows weeks of negotiations prompted by deadly mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York

 The National Rifle Association immediately announced its opposition to the legislation. 

"The NRA will support legislation that improves school security, promotes mental health services, and helps reduce violent crime," the NRA said in a statement. "However, we will oppose this gun control legislation because it falls short at every level. It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners."

Alan He contributed to this report.

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