US Senators Agree Bipartisan Gun Violence Bill

The US Senate

US senators have agreed on the terms of a bipartisan gun violence bill, falling significantly short of demands made by gun control advocates but marking the most significant development in US firearms legislation in recent decades.

Demands for increased gun control have grown following a spate of mass shootings in recent weeks, although the US gun lobby has stood firm in its refusal to consider supporting any additional barriers to gun ownership.

The announced legislation would tighten up requirements for sellers to conduct background checks, especially when selling to younger customers, and increases penalties for illegal firearm trafficking. Also included are additional funds for mental health initiatives and improving the safety of education facilities.

The measures are far from sufficient to placate advocates of gun control reform, with activists pushing for a ban on assault-style weapons and stricter background checks for all ages. Joe Biden and leading Democrats have also backed these calls.

Should the bill be enacted though, it would mark the first significant curb on firearm ownership in 29 years. Congress banned assault-style weapons in 1993, a temporary measure which has since expired.

The 80-page bill was released by lawmakers on Tuesday evening. The measures are expected to cost approximately $15bn to implement, which bill author Chris Murphy said would be fully paid for.