UPDATE, Saturday, 6:20 AM PT: President Biden signed the bipartisan gun safety bill on Saturday, saying that “time is of the essence” and “lives will be saved” by the legislation.
“While this bill doesn’t do everything I want it to, it does include actions I’ve long asked for,” Biden said, calling it a “monumental day” given that no significant federal gun laws have been passed in nearly 30 years.
With the president at the short signing event was First Lady Jill Biden. He said the White House will hold a larger ceremony on July 11 to mark the occasion.
PREVIOUS, Friday, 10:35 PT: The House has passed a bipartisan gun safety compromise bill, and the legislation will now go to Joe Biden’s desk so he can sign the bill.
The vote was 234-193, and lawmakers cheered when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the final vote. Fourteen Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill.
The legislation, in response to recent mass shootings in Uvalde, TX and Buffalo, NY, would expand background checks for those 18 to 21, incentivize states to pass “red flag” laws and expand a federal law banning domestic abusers from carrying guns. acquire. The legislation also provides funds for school safety and mental health.
But the bill does not meet an outright ban on assault weapons, even for sale to young adults. That was a reflection of Republicans’ persistence on the issue, and GOP leaders in the House even urged their members to vote against the compromise legislation.
The Senate passed the bill late Thursday night, by a vote of 65 to 33. Congressional leaders celebrated the legislation as a breakthrough, as no significant federal gun laws have been passed in nearly 30 years.
EARLIER: The Senate passed a compromise law on gun safety on Thursday by 65-33 votes, a rare time when lawmakers from both sides responded to a wave of mass shootings with legislation.
But the bill still falls short of what many gun reform advocates want, such as a ban on assault weapons and a restriction on the purchase of firearms for those under 21.
Those proposals enjoy broad public support, based on recent polls, but were a non-starter as a bipartisan group of senators worked out a compromise.
The legislation, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, would expand background checks for those 18 to 21, encourage states to pass “red flag” laws, and expand a federal law banning domestic abusers from purchasing guns. The legislation also provides funds for school safety and mental health.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on the legislation on Friday. President Joe Biden has said he will sign it.
The senators, led by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), began holding talks shortly after the mass shooting in Uvalde, TX, in which a gunman killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers. The shooter could have legally purchased two assault weapons on his 18th birthday.
Ironically, the legislation passed the same day the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, expanded gun owners’ rights to carry concealed weapons outdoors. The court overturned a century-old law in New York that required those seeking a covert license to demonstrate that they had “proper reason” or a special purpose for it.
Although the Senate bill marked the first major piece of federal gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years, it was still opposed by the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged that the bill “isn’t a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation,” but emphasized that “it’s a long-awaited step in the right direction” and that it involves “lives.” to rescue”.
President Joe Biden said in a statement: “Families in Uvalde and Buffalo — and too many tragic shootings before — have demanded action. And tonight we acted.” He said the legislation “will help protect Americans. Children in schools and communities will be safer as a result.”
Murphy, who gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor in the wake of the Uvlade massacre, wrote on Twitter: “I am exhausted. And grateful.”
Following his call for legislation, there was widespread cynicism that Congress would take steps to address gun violence, given the lack of response to so many other mass shootings in the past. After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, gun laws in the Senate faltered after it was blocked by the threat of a filibuster.
But Murphy helped lead talks in the Senate, and arms reform activists urged Congress to take action. Matthew McConaughey, a Uvalde native, visited Capitol Hill and spoke at the White House about the need for legislation, even though this bill also falls short of the proposals he’s championed.
The last major piece of legislation to pass the Senate was an assault weapons ban passed in 1994. But that restriction was allowed to expire ten years later, and sales of assault weapons, such as the AR-15, have skyrocketed. The AR-15 has been used in mass shootings for the past decade.