Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina met Monday in Boston to debate a range of issues, including gun control.
The debate, which was produced by FOX News, took place at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Dorchester. It came one day after a bipartisan group of senators reached a tentative deal on gun control legislation.
The measures include financial incentives for "red flag" laws, enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21, mental health resources and closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole."
Gun control activists said the closing of the loophole, which allows people convicted of domestic abuse to pass a background check as long as they are not the spouse of the victim, is a marked improvement.
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"More than half of mass shootings have some relation to domestic violence," said Ruth Zakarin, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. "In this piece in particular, which will keep more survivors of domestic violence safe from firearms and from abusers who have access to guns, feels like a really important step forward."
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Graham is one of 10 Republicans who support the package; Sanders said he's "quite sure" he would vote for the measures.
"I think it's a modest step forward, but it doesn't go anywhere near far enough," said Sanders. "As a nation, we have to ask ourselves whether it's acceptable to for anybody to walk in to a gun store and come out with an AR-15."
Graham acknowledged Sanders' likely decision to make concessions on gun control.
"We've made some news here today. Sen. Sanders says he'll be open-minded, depending on how it's written, the package we've negotiated. That's a big deal, because it's not what he would want."
The proposed measures have enough support — at least 60 senators — to stave off a filibuster. That means any bill would have a clearer path to becoming law.