WASHINGTON The Senate Thursday passed a bipartisan bill aimed at curbing gun violence, taking action a month after the horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, heightened pressure for a response in Congress.
Fifteen Republicans joined all Democrats in support of the measure. The House is expected to pass the bill Friday and send it to President Joe Biden’s office for signature.
The legislation, titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, includes modest restrictions on obtaining firearms and funding to bolster mental health and school safety. It is the product of a twofold compromise after weeks of negotiations led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The measure improves background checks for people under the age of 21, encourages states to pass “red flag” laws that help remove weapons from the hands of people considered a danger to themselves or others, and bans romantic partners. convicted of domestic violence are not married to their victim to obtain firearms.
However, it does not include broader restrictions sought by gun control proponents, such as banning assault weapons, raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles to 21, mandating rules for safe storage at home, or mandating of background checks on internet sales and on gun shows.
Nevertheless, it is the most important federal gun legislation in decades. Democrats and gun control advocacy groups hailed it as a sign of progress after years of Congressional lockdown on dealing with gun violence.
“This will be the most important piece of anti-gun violence passed by Congress in three decades,” Murphy said before the vote. “This bill also has a chance to prove to the weary American public that democracy is not so broken, that it is capable of rising to the moment.”
Cornyn, who was? an encounter with a chorus of booing at his state party convention last Friday, acknowledged that Republicans needed to step outside their comfort zone. But he said the “potential we have to save lives is worth every concession we should have made during the negotiations.”
“I don’t believe in doing nothing in light of what we’ve seen in Uvalde and other communities. To do nothing is to relinquish our responsibility,” he said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.