Burr, Tillis sign on to gun bill framework

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., left, and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., leave the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators – Richard Burr and Thom Tillis – are two of the 10 Republicans who have agreed to a ‘framework’ with Senate Democrats that would enact changes to the nation’s gun laws. 

A joint statement from the senators, comprising of one-fifth of chamber, outlined some of its provisions. 

“Today, we are announcing a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country. Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities,” the statement begins. 

“Our plan increases needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can’t purchase weapons. Most importantly, our plan saves lives while also protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our common-sense proposal into law.” 

While the actual bill is expected to be released by the end of this week, the framework contains nine points. 

The first is federal support for state crisis intervention orders, also known as red flag laws. The framework says the legislation’s goal is to provide resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals courts determine to be a significant danger to themselves or others. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have some version of a red flag law.   

Several of the framework provisions are increased funding for mental health services, school-based mental health and support services, funding for school safety resources, and additional investments in telehealth. 

In a document shared by the senators’ offices, the additional funding would expand community behavioral health centers, increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs, and boost support services for crisis and trauma intervention and recovery. 

The school-related provisions would add funding for programs currently in place along with early identification and intervention and “wraparound services.” The framework also says legislation would institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students. 

The framework also says protections for victims of domestic violence will close what many call the “boyfriend loophole,” which would extend restraining orders using the NICS to those who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. 

The final three points cover the definition of federally-licensed firearms dealers, require an additional investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records before purchases, and increase penalties for straw purchasing. 

Groups opposed to gun control measures are mobilizing ahead of what is expected to be a legislative battle before the July 4 recess. 

The National Rifle Association, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, said it is committed to real solutions to help stop violence but did not take a position on the framework. 

“As is our policy, the NRA does not take positions on “frameworks.” We will make our position known when the full text of the bill is available for review,” a statement from the organization said. 

“We encourage our elected officials to provide more resources to secure our schools, fix to our severely broken mental health system and support law enforcement. The NRA will continue to oppose any effort to insert gun control policies, initiatives that override constitutional due process protections and efforts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves and their loved ones into this or any other legislation.” 

The state-based Grassroots NC has sent emails to its members about a planned protest at Tillis’ Raleigh office. 

“As one of 10 Republicans tasked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to ‘compromise’ with anti-gun Democrats, Tillis is key to the ‘bipartisan’ gun control framework announced last weekend. We need YOU to convince Tillis that his present course will be highly damaging to his political career by showing up on June 24 at Tillis’ district office in Raleigh,” the email says. 

The senators who joined the statement in addition to Burr and Tillis are: Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Cory Booker (D- N.J.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).