The Senate passed bipartisan legislation on Thursday night aimed at addressing gun violence with 15 Republicans joining Democrats in support of the measure. Restrictions on gun ownership in New York were just struck down by the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The bill passed 65-33 to get a filibuster proof majority which will send the legislation to the House of Representatives. The House could vote on the bill as early as Friday, as lawmakers are rushing to pass the legislation before they leave Washington, DC for the July 4 recess. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was among those who voted for the bill, per Axios.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) previously said that she would “swiftly bring it to the floor” of the House once it passed the Senate. If the House approves the bill it will be sent to President Joe Biden who is expected to sign the legislation into law, as he has been adamant that gun control measures pass.
The Senate reached a deal on the bill earlier this week.
Supporters of the $13 billion legislation claim that it will toughen background checks for gun buyers under 21, prevent domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms and enable states to put in place “red flag” laws to make it easier for law enforcement to confiscate weapons from people deemed a threat.
The bill also has some modest funding local programs for school safety, mental health and crisis intervention programs such as mental health courts, drug courts and veterans courts.
The legislation includes incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” Previous gun ban laws prohibited individuals who were convicted of domestic violence crimes against married partners, partners with whom they shared children, or partners with whom they cohabitated, from having firearms.
Previous statutes did not include partners who may not live together, be married or share custody of children. The question of just what constitutes a “boyfriend” was up for debate in Congress.
The new bill will ban anyone who is convicted of a domestic violence crime against someone they have a “continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature” of owning a gun, however, the law isn’t retroactive. Those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes can have their gun rights restored after five years if they haven’t committed other crimes.
The legislation also targets individuals who sell guns as a primary source of income but have previously not registered as federally licensed firearms dealers.
Democrats along with those 15 Republicans praised the legislation, which is the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since 1994. However, the legislation fell short of the weapon and high-capacity magazine bans that Democrats have promised.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) said, “This is not a cure-all for the all the ways gun violence affects our nation. But it is a long overdue step in the right direction. Passing this gun safety bill is truly significant, and it’s going to save lives.”
The vote on the gun safety bill came the same day as the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law that placed restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home.
The Republicans who voted to approve the bill included all 10 Senate GOP members who signed on to an initial gun safety framework deal: 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.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana, joined their GOP colleagues in voting for the legislation.
McConnell, said “the American people want their constitutional rights protected and their kids to be safe in school,” and added, “they want both of those things at once, and that is just what the bill before the Senate will have accomplished.”
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