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A Look at the Senate 'Compromise' Gun Control Framework

The U.S. Senate hasn't revealed its proposed "compromise" gun control legislation yet, but allegedly 10 Republicans support it.

A Look at the Senate 'Compromise' Gun Control Framework

(Ron Adar photo / Shutterstock)

While the U.S. Senate still hasn’t revealed the proposed gun control legislation that allegedly has 10 Republicans supporting it, a look at the so-called “framework” provided when the “compromise” was announced is enlightening and puts all 10 Republicans on the wrong side of the Second Amendment debate.

The framework, released by a bipartisan group of senators headed by Sen. Chris Murphy, D- Connecticut, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would push states to pass so-called “red-flag” laws, expand background checks for 18- to 20-year-old Americans for some gun purchases, and fund school safety and mental health resources.

Of the proposals mentioned in the framework, the part pushing the federal government to incentivize states to pass red-flag laws is perhaps the most egregious. In fact, we’ve been covering the danger of such Extreme Risk Protective Orders (ERPOs)—the fancy name for red-flag laws—for years. 

In truth, red-flag laws turn the concept of innocent until proven guilty upside down. While they vary somewhat by state, most such laws allow family members or other acquaintances (think ex-spouse or other potentially vengeful person) to ask a state court judge to confiscate firearms from someone they believe poses a threat to their safety. In most cases, a hearing is held where the petitioner can present “evidence” that the person in question should have his guns taken.

The person under consideration for having his guns confiscated might not even be aware that such proceedings are taking place. In fact, an ERPO can be approved against these citizens without their having a single opportunity to present evidence of why they should not be suddenly deprived of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms. 

In many cases, the people whose guns are to be confiscated have no idea such an order has been filed, much less approved by a judge. So, when police officers show up at their door with a court order to “collect” their firearms, it’s understandable that some might become irate.

The other problem with the framework, of course, is changing requirements for young Americans to purchase certain semi-automatic rifles. The measure would expand background checks for those 18- to 20-year-olds to include a mandatory search of juvenile justice and mental health records.

Aside from the fact that the expanded background checks are likely not feasible since those records aren’t included in the normal so-called “instant” check and would probably take a long time to access, it raises big constitutional questions on when Second Amendment rights begin for American citizens and just how much the term “shall not be infringed” can actually be infringed.

Unfortunately, if the bill sticks to the announced framework, Senate Republican leaders have agreed to support it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said is in favor of the anti-gun legislation if the text matches the framework proposed over the weekend.

“I am comfortable with the framework and if the legislation ends up reflecting what the framework indicates, I will be supportive,” McConnell said on Tuesday.

The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) put it best when that organization said in a very brief statement about the negotiations, “The rights of the people are not negotiable.”

The Senate compromise framework comes on the heels of the U.S. House of Representatives last week passing a sweeping gun control bill that would raise the age for buying a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, ban firearm magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, require background checks on non-serialized firearms, ban bump stock devices (plus other rapid-fire trigger devices) and set standards for legally storing firearms.


Of course, until we have a real-live bill to analyze in the Senate, we’ll just have to wait and see what is going to actually be in it. Suffice it to say, if it follows the framework released it has some serious Constitutional problems.

About the Author

Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.

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