Congress Passes Gun Bill, Sends Biden to Sign

Gun control supporters signal in front of the Supreme Court during a demonstration by victims of gun violence as the debate in a larger case on gun rights begins on November 3, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Joshua Roberts | Getty Images

Scrambling to respond to the recent bloody gun massacres, US lawmakers on Friday passed the most significant federal gun sanctions in decades, following years of false starts and failures to tighten gun laws. Were.

Following Senate passage late Thursday, the House passed a bipartisan bill that seeks to restrict gun access for youngest buyers, domestic violence offenders and others who pose a risk to their communities. can. The bipartisan Safe Communities Act will also fund school safety and mental health programs.

The House approved it by a margin of 234–193, as 14 Republicans joined all Democrats. The legislation is headed by President Joe Biden, who is expected to quickly sign it into law.

Democrats hoped the law would further rein in gun violence after black shoppers and children were killed at a Buffalo grocery store in an elementary school in Texas last month. Gun-safety advocates’ victory this week also came with a blow, as the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that restricted the ability to carry concealed weapons. The ruling enforces uniform laws across the country.

Democrats nonetheless hailed the passage of the law as a landmark event after garnering support from Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who banned gun ownership after the previous mass shootings that rocked the country. Have fought for a long time to ban.

“Tonight, after 28 years of inaction, bipartisan members of Congress came together on the call of families across the country to pass legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in our communities,” Biden said in a statement Thursday night. Said after the approval of the Senate. bill. “Families in Uvalde and Buffalo – and the many tragic shootings in the past – have called for action. And tonight, we took action.”

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The bill passed on Friday would enhance background checks for 18- to 21-year-old gun buyers. The ease of access to firearms for young adults came under scrutiny after 18-year-olds armed with assault-style rifles opened fire in both Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. Democrats hope to ban those types of weapons for people under the age of 21.

The law aims to close the so-called boyfriend loophole and restrict gun ownership to domestic violence perpetrators who are not married to their partners. It would also establish grants for states to encourage red-flag laws, which allow police or relatives and acquaintances to petition a court to order the removal of a gun if the person is deemed dangerous.

It will also fund school safety and youth mental health programs. Republican gun-rights supporters have argued that rather than the proliferation of firearms, those issues fueled the American gun violence epidemic. Democrats have also long lamented the decline of mental-health programs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a rally with gun violence prevention organizations, gun violence survivors and hundreds of gun safety supporters demanding gun legislation, outside the United States Capitol in Washington, June 8 , 2022.

Evelyn Hawkstein | Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who led the passing of a far more comprehensive gun bill this month, acted quickly to get the law passed, despite her concerns about its scope.

“Every day, gun violence kills people and scares communities – and this crisis calls for immediate action,” she said in a statement on Thursday. “While we should be doing more, the bipartisan Safe Communities Act is a step forward that will help protect our children and save lives.”

The original proposal would have banned assault-style rifles for those under the age of 21 and banned certain high-capacity magazines, among other steps. It had little chance of getting through the Senate, where Democrats had to win more than 10 Republicans to garner the 60 votes needed to crack a legislative filibuster, and was eventually scaled back.

Negotiations led by Sens Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, eventually led to a breakthrough. Murphy, who represented Newtown, Conn. in the US House during the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012, has long pushed for new gun restrictions.

Fifteen Republicans, including McConnell, voted for the bill in the Senate. The Republican Senate leader on Thursday framed legislation as a middle ground between protecting schools and ensuring gun ownership rights.

“The law before us will make our communities and schools safer for law-abiding citizens without ever having to lay a finger on the Second Amendment. Its key provisions are extremely popular with the American people,” he said.

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