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Biden to sign first major federal gun safety bill in decades

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President Joe Biden will sign a bipartisan bill on Saturday to address gun violence in law before he leaves for Europe, the White House announced Friday.

The bill represents the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades and marks a major two-pronged breakthrough in one of the most controversial policy issues in Washington.

The House passed the bill on Friday by 234-193, including 14 Republicans who voted with Democrats. The Senate approved the bill in a vote Thursday evening.

The measure includes millions of dollars for mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

It also makes significant changes to the process when someone aged 18 to 21 goes to buy a firearm and closes the so-called loophole, a victory for Democrats, who have long fought for it.

The package represents the most significant new federal legislation to tackle gun violence since the expired 10-year assault weapons ban of 1994 — though it doesn’t ban guns and falls far short of what most Americans want to see according to Democrats and polls.

Reaching a bipartisan agreement on key gun laws has been notoriously difficult for lawmakers in recent years, even despite numerous mass shootings across the country.

Democrats in particular were quick to celebrate the bipartisan arms deal, as action to tackle gun violence is a key priority for the party.

But the passage of the bill in the House on Friday was overshadowed by news that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade because it ruled there is no longer a federal constitutional right to abortion.

The opinion is the most sweeping Supreme Court ruling in decades and will change the landscape of women’s reproductive health in America.

It came a day after the Supreme Court overturned a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago that imposed restrictions on carrying a concealed gun outdoors.

The statements once again emphasize the limited power of the Democratic party, despite the fact that it controls both branches of Congress and the White House.

GOP House Leaders Oppose Bill, But Bipartisan Support Still Expected

Despite widespread bipartisan support for the bill in the Senate, House Republican leaders opposed the bill and urged their members to vote “no.”

Fourteen Republicans in the House, however, voted in favor of the bill. They include:

  1. Liz Cheney from Wyoming
  2. Adam Kinzinger from Illinois
  3. Tom Rice from South Carolina
  4. John Katko from New York
  5. Maria Salazar of Florida
  6. Chris Jacobs from New York
  7. Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania
  8. Peter Meijer from Michigan
  9. Fred Upton from Michigan
  10. Tony Gonzales from Texas
  11. Steve Chabot from Ohio
  12. Mike Turner from Ohio
  13. David Joyce from Ohio
  14. Anthony Gonzalez from Ohio

The bill was passed by the Senate Thursday, with 15 Republicans joining the Democrats. The final score was 65-33.

The legislation came in the wake of recent mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, in a predominantly black neighborhood.

A bipartisan group of negotiators set to work in the Senate and unveiled the bill on Tuesday. The bill — titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — was released by Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and the Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy from Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

Lawmakers then rushed to pass the bill before leaving Washington for the July 4 recess.

As lawmakers sought a compromise, there were points where it was unclear whether the effort would succeed or fail. But while the two-pronged effort appeared to be on thin ice after several key sticking points emerged, the negotiators were ultimately able to resolve the issues that arose.

Main provisions in the bill

The bill includes $750 million to help states implement and execute crisis intervention programs. The money can be used to implement and administer red flag programs — which can temporarily prevent persons in crisis from accessing firearms through injunctions — and for other crisis intervention programs such as mental health courts, drug courts and veterans’ courts.

This bill closes a year-old domestic violence loophole — the “boyfriend loophole” — that prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence against spouses, partners with whom they shared children, or partners with whom they cohabitated from carrying weapons. to have. Old statutes do not include intimate partners who do not live together, are married, or share children. Now the law prohibits possession of a weapon by anyone convicted of domestic violence against someone with whom they have an “ongoing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”

The law has no retroactive effect. However, it will allow those convicted of domestic violence crimes to regain their gun rights after five years if they have not committed other crimes.

The bill encourages states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System with grants and implements a new protocol for checking those records.

The bill will go after individuals who sell guns as their primary source of income, but who have previously evaded registration as federally licensed firearms dealers. It also increases funding for mental health and school security programs.


This story and headline were updated Friday with additional developments.

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