WASHINGTON — The bipartisan group of lawmakers working on a bill to reduce gun violence is struggling to finalize several issues, including provisions dealing with “red flag” laws and closing the so-called “loophole.” to little friends”.
“We don’t have a deal yet… It’s time to fish or cut the bait,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Thursday, expressing frustration with the state of the talks after several rounds meetings have failed to produce an agreement this week.
A group of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, including Cornyn, agreed to a draft bill that would close the “boyfriend loophole” and create incentives for states to pass “red flag” laws, which are designed to seize the weapons of those deemed to pose a danger to themselves and others.
Federal law prohibits several classes of offenders from owning firearms, including those convicted of domestic violence. But the law only applies to current or former spouses, people who lived together, or people who have children together — it excludes someone in a romantic relationship who doesn’t share a child or address.
On average, 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner each month, according to a analysis CDC data by gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Negotiators struggled to define a “boyfriend” or partner in the Senate bill. Republicans worry that too broad a definition could lead to Second Amendment violations.
“I begin [Democrats] to find something that I can understand now because we need something very clear. And so far, we haven’t got there yet,” Cornyn told reporters on Wednesday.
The House of Representatives repeatedly addressed the boyfriend loophole in passing the Violence Against Women Act, but Republican senators complained about the provision and it was eventually removed from the final version of the legislation that was presented to President Joe Biden’s office this year.
The House bill would have amended the law to include a “dating partner or former dating partner” on the list of domestic violence perpetrators banned from having firearms. He defined a romantic partner as someone “who is or has been in a romantic or intimate social relationship with the person” and said the relationship does not have to be sexual.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), a top firearms negotiator, said the House language remains unacceptable.
“During violence against women [debate]we’ve struggled and what we’re trying to do is just find a language…that hopefully bridges the gap,” Tillis told HuffPost this week.
Nineteen states impose their own gun restrictions on intimate partners; Tillis said Thursday after leaving a meeting that negotiators were reviewing state definitions, but he declined to elaborate.
“The definition is there for the taking, so hopefully we can lock that in,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
Closing the boyfriend loophole has been a long-standing Democratic priority. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) pushed to be processed in this round of bipartisan talks on gun violence.
If Senate legislation ultimately doesn’t close the boyfriend loophole, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) lamented that “a very small bill shrinks even further.”
“The support for this bill on the Democratic side is largely made up of people who believe something is better than nothing, but the Republicans keep cutting something down,” Warren told HuffPost.
Negotiations are proceeding on a tight schedule. Democrats want to pass the bill before the two-week Fourth of July holiday and they need agreement on the text of the bill for that to happen.
It’s already been nearly a month since the horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and any further delay threatens to further slow the momentum of federal gun reforms.
The Huffington Gt