Pressure is mounting on the US Senate to act on gun safety after the Uvalde and Buffalo massacres, as Republican intransigence continues to stand in the way of all but modest reforms.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a package of gun safety measures designed to halt the disaster caused by mass shootings. The extent of Republican resistance was underlined by the fact that only five out of 208 House Republicans voted for the legislation.
The anger of victims families and gun safety advocates is now going to the Senate. There is no chance that Democrats will pass any changes unless they can bring Republican leaders with the chamber divided 50 -- 50 and 60 votes needed to beat the filibuster.
There are tentative hopes that a deal will be reached in the nearing as compromise talks continue. The outcome is likely to be dictated by the Republican refusal to contemplate anything other than limited steps.
Plans to increase resources for mental health treatment, school safety provisions and money to encourage states to introduce red flag laws that remove guns from those who could harm themselves or others are some of the most promising proposals under discussion.
On Thursday a group of more than 220 CEOs from some of the biggest brands in the US sent a joint letter to the Senate in which they lamented the public health crisis of gun violence. The letter said that the Senate should take immediate action Transcend partisanship and work together to pass legislation that addresses gun violence in our country.
Among the signatories were Levi Strauss Co, Lyft, Unilever US, Yelp and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss, said in a statement that it was time for senators to act. He said that inaction on federal legislation has made gun violence a uniquely American problem.
The Senate is under pressure because of the gun safety groups. Kris Brown, president of the Brady campaign, pointed out that the Senate has sat on legislation to tighten federal background checks on gun sales for the past 15 months.
That is 15 months of lethal inaction, he said.
The relatives of those who died in the recent massacres are some of the most visceral cries for something to be done. Kimberly Rubio, the mother of Lexi, 10, who was killed last month in Uvalde Elementary School in Texas, told a House committee this week that it was time for a ban on assault rifles of the kind used to murder her daughter.
Some people think that guns are more important than children because they believe that people with money are more important than people with money. She said that at this moment, we ask for progress.
A ban on AR-15 style rifles the kind used in both Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, and Buffalo, New York, where 10 Black people were killed at a grocery store is not on the agenda for the Senate compromise talks. The discussions, led by the Democratic Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy and his Republican counterpart John Cornyn from Texas, focus on more granular measures that have a greater hope of moving forward.
A proposal to introduce juvenile records into federal background checks for anyone under 21 trying to buy a firearm is one of the ideas on the table. Senate Republicans will not countenance raising the age limit to 21 to buy AR-15 s, even though both the Uvalde and alleged Buffalo shooters were aged 18.
Mass shootings continue to be an epidemic in the US, occurring far more frequently than high-profile disasters such as Uvalde and Buffalo. The gun violence archive, which tracks mass shootings, counts 251 such incidents in the US so far this year.