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Graham supports bipartisan gun violence bill

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 8:56 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2022 at 11:25 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WCSC/AP) - U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he supports a new bill released Tuesday that could stand as Congress’s response to mass shootings in Texas and New York that shook the nation.

The measure, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, would toughen background checks for the youngest firearms buyers, require more sellers to conduct background checks and beef up penalties on gun traffickers. It also would disburse money to states and communities aimed at improving school safety and mental health initiatives.

“As a long-time gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I have been horrified by the recent spate of mass shootings and the link between mental health and gun violence,” Graham said in a statement Tuesday night. “My goal in working with the bipartisan group has been to meaningfully address these problems while protecting the Second Amendment constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I believe the legislation announced today has a very good chance of saving lives while at the same time protecting the rights of responsible gun owners. Unless you’re adjudicated mentally ill or a convicted violent criminal, your Second Amendment rights won’t be affected.”

Graham said the legislation is different from President Joe Biden’s “laundry list of gun control proposals” which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month.

“The Senate bill has a chance of being passed and signed into law. The House-passed bill has no chance,” Graham said. “I continue to oppose the House-passed bill and will vote against it should it come up for a vote in the United States Senate.”

Graham acknowledged the bill will “not magically solve all of our problems when it comes to gun violence.”

“Deranged individuals who are intent on killing and maiming others will find ways to accomplish their hateful objective,” he said. “However, I do think there is a greater likelihood this legislation will help us avert a mass killing than prevent a law-abiding citizen from losing their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

Resolving the two final hurdles that delayed an accord since last week, the bill would prohibit romantic partners convicted of domestic violence and not married to their victim from getting firearms. And it would provide money to the 19 states and the District of Columbia that have “red flag” laws that make it easier to temporarily take firearms from people adjudged dangerous, and to other states that have violence prevention programs.

Lawmakers released the 80-page bill Tuesday evening. Aides estimated the measure would cost around $15 billion, which Sen. Chris Murphy, (D-Conn.) said would be fully paid for.

After 10 Black shoppers were killed last month in Buffalo, New York, and 19 children and two teachers died days later in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and some Republicans decided that this time, measured steps were preferable to Congress’ usual reaction to such horrors — gridlock.

Graham said his goal has always been to have a constitutional system that can “intervene in time to stop unstable, mentally-ill individuals from obtaining and using firearms to kill,” adding that this legislation takes “important steps to address this concern.”

“In dealing with the mental health component of mass shootings, we provide states with additional resources to act in this area as they see fit. All states will be eligible for health care grants no matter if they have a Red Flag law or not,” Graham said. “I’m very proud of the fact that my home state of South Carolina has been a leader in the area of working to keep mentally ill individuals from obtaining firearms. Several years ago, South Carolina passed a law that required probate courts in our state to report the names of individuals adjudicated mentally ill within the past ten years to the background check system. South Carolina also continues to report new cases as they arise.”

He said he expects more states will use resources in the legislation to “follow South Carolina’s lead.”

“The Senate legislation also expands the scope of mental health records that will be entered into the background check system to capture already adjudicated behavior for juveniles related to violence,” Graham said.

Copyright 2022 WCSC/CNN. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.