WASHINGTON (UKTN) — A bipartisan gun violence bill that seemed unimaginable a month ago is poised to gain final approval from Congress, a vote that will produce the most sweeping response from lawmakers in decades. to the brutal mass shootings that shocked but not surprised Americans.
The House was scheduled to vote on the $13 billion package on Friday, exactly one month after a gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. A few days earlier, a racially motivated white man allegedly killed 10 black grocers in Buffalo, New York.
The two massacres — within days of each other and victimizing helpless people for whom the public felt immediate empathy — prompted both parties to conclude that Congress needed to act, especially in an election year. After weeks of closed-door talks, Senate negotiators from both sides have produced a compromise that takes soft but hard-hitting steps to make such chaos less likely.
“The families of Uvalde and Buffalo, and too many tragic shootings before, demanded action. And tonight we acted,” President Joe Biden said after his visit. He said the House should get it to him quickly, adding: ‘Children in schools and communities will be safer because of this.’
The legislation would strengthen background checks on younger gun buyers, further prevent perpetrators of domestic violence from using firearms, and help states put in place red flag laws that allow authorities to take weapons more easily from people deemed dangerous. It would also fund local programs for school safety, mental health and violence prevention.
The Senate approved the measure Thursday by 65-33. Fifteen Republicans — a remarkably high number for a party that has derailed gun curbs for years — joined 50 Democrats, including their two independent allies, in endorsing the bill.
Still, that meant less than a third of GOP senators backed the measure. And with Republicans in the House expected to strongly oppose it, the fate of future congressional action on guns looks doubtful, even if the GOP is expected to win control of the House and possibly the Senate in the November elections.
Top House Republicans urged voting “no” in an email from GOP Leader No. 2 Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He called the bill “an effort to slowly curtail the rights of law-abiding 2nd Amendment citizens.”
While the bill was notable for its contrast to years of deadlock in Washington, it falls far short of the tougher gun restrictions that Democrats have sought and Republicans have thwarted for years. These included bans on assault-type weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in the killings at Buffalo and Uvalde.
Yet the deal allowed the leaders of both parties in the Senate to declare victory and demonstrate to voters that they know how to compromise and make government work, while giving each side the opportunity to appeal to their main supporters.
“This is not a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., whose party has made gun restrictions a goal for decades. “But it’s a long overdue step in the right direction.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., In a nod to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that motivates many conservative voters, said “the American people want their constitutional rights are protected and that her children are safe at school”.
The day turned out to be bittersweet for proponents of gun violence reduction. Underscoring the enduring power of conservative action, the right-wing Supreme Court issued a ruling expanding Americans’ right to bear arms in public by striking down a New York law requiring people to prove they need to carry a gun. weapon before getting a license to do so.
Hours before final passage, the Senate voted 65 to 34 to end a filibuster by conservative GOP senators to kill the legislation. That was five more than the 60-vote threshold required.
Still, the Senate votes highlighted how wary most Republicans are of challenging the party’s pro-gun voters and gun groups like the National Rifle Association. The senses. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Indiana’s Todd Young were the only two of 15 to be reelected this fall. Of the rest, four are retiring and eight won’t face voters until 2026.
Tellingly, GOP senators voting “no” included potential 2024 presidential candidates like Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tim Scott of South Carolina. Cruz said the legislation would “disarm law-abiding citizens rather than take serious action to protect our children.”
The talks that produced the bill were led by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, John Cornyn, R-Texas and Thom Tillis, RN.C. Murphy represented Newtown, Connecticut, when an attacker killed 20 students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, while Cornyn was embroiled in gun talks following shootings by mass in his state and is close to McConnell.
The bill would make local juvenile records of people between the ages of 18 and 20 available during required federal background checks when attempting to purchase firearms. These reviews, currently limited to three days, would last up to a maximum of 10 days to give federal and local authorities time to search for records.
People convicted of domestic violence who are current or former romantic partners of the victim would be prohibited from acquiring firearms, thus closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole”.
This ban currently only applies to people who are married to, living with, or have had children with the victim.
There would be money to help states enforce red flag laws and for other states without them than for violence prevention programs. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have such laws.
The measure expands the use of background checks by rewriting the definition of federally licensed arms dealers needed to conduct them. Penalties for gun trafficking are increased, billions of dollars are being allocated to behavioral health clinics and mental health programs in schools and there is money for safe schools initiatives, but not for staff to use a “dangerous weapon”.