WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Thursday pushed a bipartisan gun violence bill to the brink of passage when it voted to stop a Republican filibuster against the measure, paving the way for Congress’ most far-reaching response in decades on the country’s relentless onslaught. mass shootings.
After years of GOP procedural delays that derailed democratic efforts to curb firearms, Democrats and some Republicans decided Congressional inaction was unsustainable after last month’s horrific disasters in New York and Texas. It took nearly a month of talks behind closed doors, but a group of senators from both sides came forward with an 80-page compromise that embodied an incremental but impactful move.
The measure would tighten background checks for the youngest gun buyers, protect firearms from more perpetrators of domestic violence and help states implement “red flag” laws that make it easier for authorities to take guns from people deemed dangerous. . It would also fund local school safety, mental health and violence prevention programs.
Thursday’s roll call that ended the blockade by conservative GOP senators was 65-34, five more than the required 60-vote threshold. Final approval of the $13 billion measure was expected by the end of the week, with a vote in the House to follow, though the timing was uncertain.
Fifteen Republicans joined all 50 Democrats, including their two allied independents, to vote to pass the bill.
But by highlighting the risks Republicans face from defying the party’s pro-gun voters and the National Rifle Association, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana the only two up for re-election this fall. Of the rest, four will retire and eight will not have to deal with voters until 2026.
The election-year package fell far short of the tougher gun restrictions Democrats have been pushing for years, including a ban on the assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. Still, the accord allowed leaders of both parties to declare victory and demonstrate to voters that they know how to compromise and make government work, while also leaving room for each party to appeal to its most important supporters.
“This is not a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation,” said Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., whose party has made gun restrictions its goal for years. “But it is a long-awaited step in the right direction. It’s important, it’s going to save lives.”
“The American people want their constitutional rights to be protected and their children safe in school,” said Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a nod to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that drives many conservative voters. wants both things at once, and that is exactly what the Senate bill will have accomplished.”
But while the Senate move was a clear breakthrough, prospects for a continuation of Congress’ gun ownership move are bleak. Only about a third of the Senate’s 50 GOP senators supported the measure, and solid Republican opposition in the House is certain, and both chambers — now closely controlled by Democrats — could very well be shut down by the GOP after November’s midterm elections. controlled.
To underline the staying power of conservative cIout, Thursday’s vote took place minutes after the right-leaning Supreme Court issued a decision to extend Americans’ right to bear arms in public† Their ruling overturned a law in New York that requires people to prove they must carry a gun before being licensed to do so.
The White House expressed President Joe Biden’s support for the legislation, citing his visits to Buffalo and Uvalde after the shooting.
“The family members conveyed a simple message, which the president then passed on to the American people: do something,” the statement said. It said that while Biden wants stricter restrictions, the bill would “make meaningful progress in the fight against gun violence.”
The Senate action came a month after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde. Just 10 days earlier, a white man accused of racism killed 10 black supermarket customers in Buffalo. Both shooters were 18 years old, a youthful profile shared by many mass shooters.
The talks were led by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, RN.C. Murphy was representing Newtown, Connecticut, when an attacker killed 20 students and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, while Cornyn was involved in previous gun talks following mass shootings in his state and close to McConnell.
The bill would make the local youth records of people ages 18 to 20 available during mandatory federal background checks when trying to purchase guns. Those investigations, currently limited to three days, would last up to 10 days to give federal and local officials time to search records.
People convicted of domestic violence who are current or former romantic partners of the victim should not be allowed to purchase firearms, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”
That ban currently only applies to people who are married to, cohabiting with or have had children with the victim. The compromise proposal would extend that to those deemed to have had “an ongoing serious relationship.”
There would be money to help states enforce “red flag” laws and for other states without those for violence prevention programs. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have “red flag” laws, and Cornyn — whose state doesn’t — demanded the inclusion of all states during the negotiations.
The measure expands the use of background checks by rewriting the definition of the federally licensed arms dealers needed to perform them. Penalties for arms trafficking are getting tougher, billions of dollars are being provided for behavioral clinics and mental health programs in schools, and there is money for safety initiatives in schools, but not for staff to use a “dangerous weapon.”