(Washington DC) – The Senate pushed a bipartisan gun violence bill to the brink of passage on Thursday as it voted to end a Republican filibuster against the measure, paving the way for the most ambitious response of Congress for decades to the country’s brutal race. mass shootings.
After years of GOP procedural delays that have derailed Democratic gun control efforts, Democrats and some Republicans have decided congressional inaction is untenable after last month’s rampages in New York and Texas. It took weeks of closed-door talks, but a group of senators from both parties emerged with an 80-page compromise that embodied a progressive but impactful move.
The measure would strengthen background checks for younger gun buyers, keep guns out of more domestic violent offenders, and help states put in place red flag laws that allow authorities to take weapons more easily from people considered dangerous. It would also fund local programs for school safety, mental health and violence prevention.
Thursday’s roll call ending the blockade by conservative GOP senators was 65 to 34, five more than the 60-vote threshold needed. Final passage of the $13 billion measure was expected by the end of the week with a House vote to follow. The timing was uncertain, but Congress was expected to leave town by the weekend for a two-week recess.
Fifteen Senate Republicans joined 50 Democrats, including their two allied independents, in voting to push the legislation forward.
The day turned out to be bittersweet for proponents of gun violence reduction. Underscoring the enduring power of conservative influence, the right-wing Supreme Court issued a ruling expanding Americans’ right to bear arms in public. Judges struck down a New York law that required people to prove they needed to carry a gun before getting a license to do so.
The Senate vote highlighted the risks Republicans face in challenging the party’s pro-gun voters and the National Rifle Association. The senses. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Indiana’s Todd Young were the only two of 15 to be reelected this fall. Of the rest, four are retiring and eight won’t face voters until 2026.
Tellingly, GOP senators voting “no” included potential 2024 presidential candidates like Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tim Scott of South Carolina. Some of the party’s more conservative members also voted ‘no’, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.
The election-year package fell well short of tougher gun restrictions Democrats have been seeking for years, including a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in killings. in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Still, the deal allowed leaders of both parties to declare victory and demonstrate to voters that they know how to compromise and make government work, while giving each side room to appeal to their core supporters. .
‘This is not a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation,’ said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., whose party has made gun restrictions a goal for decades. “But it’s a long overdue step in the right direction. It’s important, it’s going to save lives.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., In a nod to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that motivates many conservative voters, said “the American people want their constitutional rights are protected and that her children are safe at school”. He said “they want both of those things, and that’s exactly what the bill before the Senate will have accomplished.”
While the Senate measure was a clear breakthrough, the prospects for continued congressional movement on gun curbs are bleak.
Only about a third of the Senate’s 50 GOP senators backed the measure, and a strong Republican opposition is certain in the House. Top House Republicans urged a “no” vote in an email from GOP Leader No. 2 Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who called the bill “an effort to slowly curtail the rights of the 2nd Amendment Law-Abiding Citizens”.
Both chambers — now tightly controlled by Democrats — may well be led by the GOP after November’s midterm elections.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said residents of Uvalde told him during his visit that Washington needed to act.
“Our children in schools and our communities will be safer thanks to this legislation. I call on Congress to finish the job and bring this bill to my desk,” Biden said.
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 being racially motivated killed 10 black grocery shoppers 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-Arizona, John Cornyn, R-Texas and Thom Tillis, RN.C. Murphy represented Newtown, Connecticut, when an attacker killed 20 students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, while Cornyn was embroiled in gun talks following shootings by mass in his state and is close to McConnell.
The bill would make local juvenile records of people between the ages of 18 and 20 available during required federal background checks when attempting to purchase firearms. These reviews, currently limited to three days, would last up to a maximum of 10 days to give federal and local authorities time to search for records.
People convicted of domestic violence who are current or former romantic partners of the victim would be prohibited from acquiring firearms, thus closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole”.
This ban currently only applies to people who are married to, living with, or have had children with the victim. The Compromise Bill would extend this to those deemed to have had “a continuing serious relationship”.
There would be money to help states enforce red flag laws and for other states without them than for violence prevention programs. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have such laws, and Cornyn — which state has none — demanded that all states be included in the negotiations.
The measure expands the use of background checks by rewriting the definition of federally licensed arms dealers needed to perform them. Penalties for gun trafficking are increased, billions of dollars are being allocated to behavioral health clinics and mental health programs in schools and there is money for safe schools initiatives, but not for staff to use a “dangerous weapon”.
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