NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A bipartisan group of senators announced they reached an agreement on new gun safety legislation on Sunday after a string of mass shootings across the country. 

The deal, put together by 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, would be the first action Congress has taken on gun control in 30 years. 

Connecticut’s own U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Chris Murphy (D) played a major role in the proposal.  

“This agreement could be a historic breakthrough,” Blumenthal said. “Families are scared and this proposal will help to save lives.” 

The agreement would provide states with funding for mental health and school safety programs and incentives to create ‘red flag laws’ that make it easier to temporarily take away dangerous weapons from people who are a danger to themselves or others. 

“Thirty years, thirty years since Congress has done anything meaningful on the issue of gun violence. This bill doesn’t do everything. This bill will not end the epidemic of gun violence overnight. This doesn’t include everything that Dick and I support, but it is substantial. It is significant. It will save lives and it will provide us the momentum to be able to make further changes. That’s why I describe this as a breakthrough moment,” said Sen. Chris Murphy.

It would also strengthen the federal background check system, and require gun buyers under 21 to undergo an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records. 

“You know, I have a fourth-grader and I can’t stand the fact that he had to go back to school the day after Uvalde, and have the conversations with his friends that he had to have about how they would survive a mass shooting,” said Sen. Chris Murphy.

Connecticut has some of the strictest gun safety laws in the country.

“Even with the strongest laws, we’re at the mercy of states with the weakest because guns have no respect for state boundaries,” Blumenthal said. “Connecticut’s protection depends on national standards.” 

Gov. Ned Lamont (D) echoed Blumenthal’s comments.  

“Obviously, the Connecticut laws go a lot further in terms of gun safety, but it’s an important step,” Lamont said.  

Lamont’s challenger, Bob Stefanowski (R) had a similar reaction in a statement saying in part, “It’s an important first step in showing the American people that Congress can work together and find compromise.” 

This is the feeling among many, and it is a long time coming. 

“I’m tired of having to explain why our children are being sacrificed to the gun industry,” said Jeremy Stein, the executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.

Though, some lawmakers and advocates hoped for more, especially after Connecticut experienced its own mass shooting nearly 10 years ago when a gunman killed 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. 

Po Murray of Newtown Action Alliance was neighbors with the shooter. 

“Until Congress bans weapons of war and ensures that these assault rifles do not land in the hands of 18-year-olds or others, then these mass shootings and school shootings will continue to happen,” Murray said. “We need to do so much more. We need a comprehensive solution to tackle this issue.” 

It is people like Murray that Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D) said will be the force that influences Congress to do more. 

“Congress is an institution that responds to external pressure and the American people, and the families who have lost loved ones, are the external pressure,” DeLauro said. 

The Democratic-controlled House has been working on multiple actions regarding gun control, but they are likely to fail in the Senate. This proposal is now in the drafting process and will need to pass the House and Senate to become law. 

Sandy Hook Promise released a statement saying in part: 

“The gun safety measures being included in the proposed package uphold Second Amendment rights while also offering proven, commonsense reforms that can be immediately put to work to protect our children and communities. I urge the Senate to move quickly crafting the details of the bill and moving to a vote. And I ask every citizen to demand Congress support this package – and do not stop until it hits President Biden’s desk. Precious lives are depending on our collective action.”

The law will also update the definition of which gun sellers have to run background checks. If you make a profit, the seller must run a check on the buyer and enforce a criminal ban on straw purchases made by gun traffickers. This puts teeth into laws that can stop illegal guns from flooding city streets.

“We had a young man just murdered yesterday. And to see this change come now, this moment, come now is significant. Give me hope,” said Rev. Henry Brown, Mothers Against Gun Violence.

Blumenthal spearheaded the red flag measure.

“People who say they are going to kill themselves or others should be separated from their guns, at least temporarily,” Blumenthal said.

Connecticut recently closed the boyfriend loophole in the state. We also have a family violence restraining order, which includes taking a firearm away from current and recent or past dating partners.

The federal measure also focuses on mental health issues. Ellen Crafts, a volunteer from Mom’s Demand Action, said her father was a veteran. He was depressed and an alcoholic. He shot himself to death.

“My dad lived in a state that didn’t have red flag laws at the time of his death. He also didn’t have ready access to mental health services, nor could he have afforded them if he did.”

The bipartisan deal also includes investments in mental health support and school security upgrades.
It does not include Ethan’s Law.

The legislation is being drafted and votes are being pulled together. It is an aggressive schedule but they are trying to get it done before the July 4 break.