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Senators look to announce initial agreement on guns as soon as Sunday – CNN

(CNN)Senate negotiators in both parties are pushing to announce as soon as Sunday the outlines of an agreement on new measures to address gun violence, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The sources underscore that the agreement is in principle only and that thorny legislative text is not yet written.

Still, the agreement would be significant given how divided lawmakers have been over the gun issue, even in the wake of a series of devastating mass shootings, including one that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

    One source with knowledge of the discussions said negotiators are hoping to get 10 Republican senators to sign on to the agreement before it is announced, in order to show they can overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold. The Senate is currently evenly divided between the Democratic and GOP conferences with 50 seats each.

      Sen. Chris Murphy 'more confident than ever' Congress can reach deal on gun laws but anxious about failure

      Sources involved in the talks said the agreement outline includes providing funding to incentivize states to implement “red flag” laws, an expansion of mental health services by growing a 10-state pilot program for behavioral health services to all 50 states, allowing juvenile records to be searched during background checks for those under 21 years of age, and funding for school security measures. It would also change the background check system to better crack down on criminals who evade that system by using smaller “hobbyists” to illegally buy guns.

      The agreement is not expected to include a number of provisions pushed by President Joe Biden and gun control advocates, namely a renewal of the so-called assault weapons ban and raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.

      The four main Senate negotiators — Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and GOP Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — have been in talks all weekend to hammer out the final details and have also been in discussions with a larger bipartisan group of negotiators.

        The House voted 223-204 last week to pass a wide-ranging package of gun control legislation called the Protecting Our Kids Act. The measure is not expected to pass the Senate, however, amid widespread GOP opposition to stricter gun control.

        Passage of the legislation in the House took place hours after an emotional hearing on gun violence in which families of victims pleaded for more action.

        Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland on Sunday praised the Senate negotiators for their work on the legislation but stopped short of voicing his support for the forthcoming package.

        “Well, we would certainly vote on it and work on it,” he said on “State of the Union” when asked if would vote for the bill, adding: “It’s moving in the right direction. We’re glad the Senate is finally awake about this.”

          Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat from New York, said later on the same program that she would be willing to support the legislation “if we get a real baby step, not kind of a distraction, I think, from the solution.” She stressed that including a provision for background checks is critical.

          “You know, I believe that, if we can get background checks through, my hope — my hope is that it’s a yes” on the legislation, Ocasio-Cortez said.

          CNN’s Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.

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