A bipartisan gun control bill that stands as the first significant federal gun safety legislation in decades was enacted by the Senate on Thursday night.
A huge bipartisan victory on one of the nation’s most difficult policy issues was achieved when the legislation received a final vote of 65 to 33, with 15 Republicans joining Democrats in support. Before being passed to President Joe Biden to be passed into law, the bill will the next go to the House for a vote.
Millions of dollars will go into crisis intervention programs, mental health services, school safety, and rewards for states to add juvenile records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System as part of the bipartisan gun deal.
Additionally, it eliminates the infamous boyfriend loophole, a win for Democrats who have long campaigned for it, and makes significant changes to the procedure for anyone between the ages of 18 and 21 seeking to purchase a firearm.
Despite not outright banning any weapons and falling far short of what Democrats and polls indicate the majority of Americans want, the package equates to the most substantial piece of new federal legislation to fix gun violence since the 1994 assault weapons ban, which was set to expire after 10 years.
Before the vote, there were a few dozen people in the Senate gallery. Senators had emphasized that survivors of gun violence, their families, and organizations were present to witness the historical vote in the chamber.
The Supreme Court invalidated a New York gun statute passed more than a century ago that placed limits on bringing a concealed weapon outside the house on the same day that the federal gun safety legislation was put to a vote.
As the judicial branch executes the broadest expansion of gun rights in a decade and the legislative body seems poised to enact its most important gun safety measure in almost 30 years, the decision shows the competing political forces at play on the subject at all branches of administration.
A Critical Vote That Needed GOP Support
Previously in the day, a crucial vote in the Senate saw the gun safety bill advance with Republican support, bringing it one bit closer to passage.
The vote to end the filibuster was 65-34 in favor of the Democrats. The same 15 Republican senators who supported ending the filibuster also supported the bill’s final passage.
Republicans John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted in favor of the preliminary framework agreement on gun safety.
Blunt, Burr, Portman, and Toomey, four of the initial ten Republican backers, are leaving this year. Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who are both members of the GOP leadership, also voted to end a filibuster on the measure with Mitch McConnell.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana, who were not among the 10 Republicans who originally endorsed the blueprint and are up for reelection in November, were two other notable Republicans who voted in favor of it. After the bill passed the Senate late on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that the House would consider it on Friday.
After recent, terrible shooting incidents at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and at a school in Uvalde, Texas, both of which were in mainly Black neighborhoods, the law was put up.
On Tuesday, a group of negotiators from both parties introduced the legislation draught they had been working on in the Senate. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was introduced by Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona as well as Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Before postponing the July 4 recess, lawmakers were rushing to pass the bill.
It is a significant accomplishment for the negotiators who came together to reach an agreement that the bill language was finalized and that the legislation has become likely to be passed by the Senate.
After a number of significant sticking points surfaced, the bipartisan effort seemed to be on thin ice, but finally, negotiators were able to work out the problems. In today’s extremely polarised political atmosphere, the agreement is a rare example of cooperation across party lines on one of the most difficult subjects in Washington.
Even in the wake of numerous shooting incidents throughout the nation, politicians have struggled to come to a consensus on significant gun regulation in recent times.
In a statement on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sinema lamented the length of time that “political games in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, have halted progress in safeguarding our communities and keeping the family safe and protected.”
The Arizona Democrat stated, “The communities across our country that have witnessed horrific violence deserve better than Washington politics as usual. Throwing blame and trading political jabs and insults became the way of low resistance.”
“Our communities deserve a commitment from their leaders to perform the hard work of leaving aside politics, identifying problems that need to be resolved, and cooperating toward mutual understanding and shared goals,”
Basic Provisions Of The Bill
The law offers $750 million to support state crisis intervention program implementation and administration. The funds can be used for various crisis intervention programs, such as mental health courts, drug courts, and veterans courts, as well as for the implementation and management of red flag programs, which can temporarily block people in crisis from acquiring weapons through a judicial order.
The “boyfriend loophole” in domestic abuse law, which for years prevented people convicted of violent crimes involving married partners, partners with whom they carried children, or partners with whom they cohabitated from possessing firearms, is closed by this measure. Older laws did not cover intimate relationships between people who do not share a home, a marriage, or children.
Anyone found guilty of a crime involving domestic violence against people with whom they have a “continued serious relationship of a romantic or personal character” is now prohibited by law from owning a gun.
The law does not apply in the past. However, provided they haven’t committed any other crimes in the last five years, it will permit those found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses to regain their gun privileges.
The measure establishes a new process for examining those data and offers incentives to states to encourage the inclusion of juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The legislation targets people who have in the past avoided registering as federally registered weapons dealers but nonetheless sell guns as their primary source of income. Additionally, money for mental health services and school safety is increased.
Fight In GOP Over The Bill
Some key Republicans in the House and Senate leadership have begun to disagree.
The bipartisan gun compromise was approved, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And even as the Senate tries to pass a bill this week, senior House Republican leaders are uniting in opposition to it and pushing their delegates to vote “no.”
However, despite the opposition of House GOP leaders, some House Republicans already have declared their intention to support the measure, and the Democrat-controlled House is anticipated to be able to pass the law once it is approved by the Senate.
While more is required, Pelosi said in a statement that “this package must swiftly become legislation to help protect our children.”