The bipartisan gun control bill, the most significant gun-related legislation in nearly 30 years, was approved by the Senate late on Thursday by a vote of 65 to 33.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who co-led the negotiations, said on the Senate floor on Thursday that the legislation “responds” in a “positive and an affirmative way” to the shootings that took place last month at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, leaving a total of 31 people dead, including 19 children.
“I don’t believe in doing nothing in the face of what we saw in Uvalde and we’ve seen in far too many communities,” Cornyn said.
“Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility as representatives of the American people here in the United States Senate,” Cornyn continued.
The legislation will now be returned to the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to quickly take it up. Although Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has urged Republicans to oppose the measure, it is anticipated to pass the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats.
President Biden is expected to sign the legislation, despite the fact that it falls short of the full range of gun control measures he had demanded.
What is the gun control bill about?
Senate negotiators unveiled the legislative text on Tuesday after releasing the proposal’s framework earlier this month. The upper chamber then took the first procedural vote to advance the bill.
The legislation strengthens background checks for potential gun purchasers who are younger than 21, closes the infamous “boyfriend loophole,” clarifies the definition of a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer, and establishes harsher punishments for straw purchases and gun trafficking.
As well as providing roughly billions of dollars in federal funding to strengthen mental health services for kids and families and harden schools, it also offers $750 million in grants to encourage states to implement crisis intervention programs.
The Senate’s proposal is much more limited than a set of bills that the House recently passed and falls short of what President Biden has demanded. That legislation would prohibit large-capacity magazines and raise the age requirement from 18 to 21 for purchasing a semiautomatic rifle.
Additionally, it establishes requirements governing the storage of firearms on residential property and provides incentives for their secure storage.
Despite the fact that the House’s legislation included many of Biden’s recommendations, it would not have garnered enough Republican support to pass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.
Democrats involved in the bipartisan discussions in the upper chamber have acknowledged that their proposal is more tailored, but they have asserted that a slimmer package had a better chance of winning support from the GOP.
The bill is not without opposition
The National Rifle Association opposes the bill, claiming in a statement released on Tuesday that its provisions could be “abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians.”
The plan put forth by the Senate, according to House Republican leaders, is an attempt to curtail the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. However, the legislation advances “common sense solutions without rolling back rights for law-abiding citizens,” according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who supported the measure.