Maine’s senior senator said she believes a tentative bipartisan gun deal announced Sunday stands a good chance of overcoming a Republican filibuster and being passed by the U.S. Senate.

“I believe it does stand a good chance of passage,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a telephone interview while waiting to board an airplane Sunday evening for her return to the nation’s capital. “We have put together a common-sense package of gun safety and reform measures that received support from both sides.”

Collins and a small group of senators from both parties – led by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas –  had been meeting for days following the May 24 mass shooting of 19 children and two teachers inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which was preceded by a mass shooting inside a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

On Sunday, 20 U.S. senators – including nine Democrats and Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats – and 10 Republicans, announced they had signed their support for the tentative agreement on gun legislation that President Biden said he would sign into law if passed by the Senate. Terms of the agreement still need to be hammered out, but Collins said the Senate should act before the July Fourth recess.

“We could lose momentum if we don’t act quickly,” Collins said. “It’s time. It is past time.”

Under the deal, a federal grant program would encourage states to implement “red flag” laws that allow authorities to keep guns away from people who are found by a judge to represent a threat to themselves or others. Maine in 2019 enacted a yellow-flag law that not only requires the consent of a judge but also for a medical practitioner to sign off before a gun can be confiscated from a person threatening to harm himself or others.  If the legislation is approved by the Senate, Maine will also receive federal grants to pay for medical assessments under its yellow-flag law, Collins said.


“Maine will do just fine,” she said.

The agreement announced Sunday does not include a provision supported by Biden that would raise the minimum age for the purchase of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines from 18 to 21. But it will require federal criminal background checks for gun buyers under 21, including a mandatory search of juvenile justice and mental health records for the first time.

Collins said she is open to the president’s idea of restricting the purchase of certain rifles to people under the age of 21, but said the bipartisan group backed off from such a provision because they realized it would likely have sunk the deal that was announced on Sunday. Handguns are already subject to a federal 21-and-over age limit.

Collins said the proposed bill protects the Second Amendment rights of responsible gun owners.

“This bill has been carefully drafted to protect gun owners’ rights,” Collins said. “Law-abiding gun owners will find that they are not affected in any meaningful way by this legislation.”

Collins said the recent string of mass shootings got the attention of Congress.

“I really think we have to succeed this time, and I think we will succeed,” Collins said.

The framework of the bipartisan agreement announced Sunday amounts to a statement of principles, not a fully written bill.

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