The United States Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan bill to address gun violence, the first gun safety bill in decades.
The final vote was 65-33, with 15 Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the measure, marking a significant advance on one of the country’s most contentious political issues. The bill will go to the House before being sent to President Joe Biden for sanction.
The bipartisan arms deal includes millions of dollars for mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Criminal Background Check System.
It also contains significant changes to the process when someone aged 18 to 21 goes to buy a firearm and closes some key loopholes, a victory for Democrats, who have long fought for this.
The package represents the most significant change in federal legislation to address gun violence since the 1994 assault gun ban, which expired ten years later — though it does not ban any guns and falls far short of what Democrats and polls show most of Americans want.
Present in the Senate during the final vote were gun violence survivors, family members and support groups.
The bill’s vote came on the same day the Supreme Court struck down a New York law enacted more than a century ago that imposes restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon outside the home.
The ruling highlights the conflicting political forces surrounding the issue at all levels of government, as the judiciary implements the biggest expansion of gun rights in a decade, just as the legislature appears to be on its way to passing its package of most significant gun security in nearly 30 years.
The gun safety bill came one step closer to passing the Senate early Thursday after a critical vote managed to advance the measure with Republican support.
The vote was 65 to 34, with 15 Republican senators joining the Democrats in breaking the obstruction. The same 15 lawmakers voted to approve the measure in the final approval.
The Party’s “yes” votes include all 10 Republicans who signed an initial gun safety agreement: 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.
Four of these will retire this year: Blunt, Burr, Portman and Toomey.
Senate Republican Party leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Capito of West Virginia, who are leading the Party, also voted to overcome an obstruction to the bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, announced Thursday night, after the bill passed the Senate, that the House will pass it on Friday.
The legislation came after the recent tragic mass shootings at a school in Uvalde, Texas, and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which was in a predominantly black neighborhood.
A bipartisan group of negotiators began work in the Senate and released the legislative text on Tuesday (21). The bill was introduced by Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Democratic Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Lawmakers were racing to pass the bill before the July 4th recess. The fact that the text of the bill has been finalized and the legislation passed in the Senate is a huge victory for the negotiators who came together to reach an agreement.
The bipartisan effort appeared to be in jeopardy after several key points emerged, but negotiators managed to resolve the issues. The agreement marks a rare example of compromise across party lines on one of the most contentious issues in Washington – a feat in today’s highly polarized political environment.
Reaching a bipartisan agreement on key gun legislation has been notoriously difficult for lawmakers in recent years, even in the face of numerous mass shootings across the country.
“For too long, political games in Washington on both sides have stalled progress in protecting our communities and keeping families safe and secure,” Sinema said in a speech to the Senate.
“Accusing and exchanging political barbs and attacks has become the path of least resistance, but communities in our country that have suffered senseless violence deserve more than usual Washington policy,” said the Arizona Democrat. “Our communities deserve the commitment of their leaders to do the hard work of putting politics aside, identifying issues that need to be resolved, and working together toward common ground and common goals.”
Main provisions of the bill
The project includes $750 million to help states implement and execute crisis intervention programs. The money can be used to implement and manage alert programs – which can temporarily prevent individuals in crisis from accessing firearms through a court order – and for other projects such as mental health, drug and veterans courts.
This bill closes a years-old loophole in the domestic violence law – the “boyfriend loophole” – that prevented individuals who were convicted of crimes of domestic violence against married partners or with whom they shared children from owning weapons.
Old statutes did not include intimate partners who did not fit these conditions. The law will now prohibit carrying a gun by anyone convicted of a crime of domestic violence against someone with whom they have “an ongoing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”
The law is not retroactive. However, it will allow those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to restore their gun rights after five years if they have not committed other crimes.
The bill encourages states to include juvenile records in the National Criminal Background Check System with subsidies, as well as implements a new protocol to verify such records.
The package goes after individuals who sell guns as primary sources of income but who previously evaded registration as federally licensed firearms dealers. It also increases funding for mental health and school safety programs.
Source: CNN Brasil