WASHINGTON. On Thursday, the Senate moved one step closer to passing bipartisan legislation to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people as a small group of Republicans joined Democrats to break their party’s blockade and secure what would be the first substantial gun security measure. measure in decades on the brink of transition.
Fifteen Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, joined the Democrats in the crucial test vote that paved the way for the Senate to pass the measure as early as Thursday. 65 votes to 34 more than passed the 60-vote threshold needed to break the Republican filibuster, ending a three-decade-long string of gun law failures. One Republican senator was absent.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader, said he intends to bring the bill to a vote on final passage by the end of the day, though the timeline is subject to change.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said the House would move quickly to clear it once the Senate made a decision. White House officials said President Biden would sign the measurecalling it “one of the most significant steps taken by Congress to reduce gun violence in decades.”
“This is not a panacea for all the ways that gun violence is affecting our country, but it is a long overdue step in the right direction,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s important – it will save lives.”
The compromise, which is the result of intense negotiations between a small group of Democrats and Republicans, overlooks many of the sweeping gun control measures that Democrats and activists have long called for. The talks unfolded after two successive mass shootings — one at a grocery store in Buffalo and another at an elementary school in Wvalde, Texas — sparked a nationwide call to action and prompted senators on both sides to find at least some common ground after decades of stalemate.
The result was the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” which will improve background checks on potential gun buyers under the age of 21, extending the time period from three days to 10 days, and allowing law enforcement to check records of minors and mental illness for the first time. .
There will also be a $750 million federal grant to help states implement so-called red flag laws, which allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns if a court declares a person a danger to themselves or others, as well as other intervention programs. including mental health courts.
And for the first time, it will include serious current or recent partners in a federal law that bans domestic abusers from buying firearms, closing what has come to be known as the guy loophole.
In addition, the measure will increase the criminal penalties for buying straw – buying and giving weapons to people who are prohibited from owning weapons – and arms trafficking.
In an effort to keep Republicans on board, the Democrats missed their major gun control proposals, including a measure passed by the House of Representatives to ban the sale of semi-automatic rifles to those under 21, a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines, and a federal red flag law. They also agreed that extended background checks for young buyers would expire in ten years, like the assault weapons ban in 2004, and future Congresses would have to re-negotiate whether to renew it.
However, the National Rifle Association vehemently opposed the bill, saying in a statement that it “does little to really address the problem of violent crime, opening the door to unnecessary burdens on law-abiding gun owners exercising Second Amendment freedom.”
The legislation provides millions of dollars, mostly in the form of grants, to address mental health issues in schools and communities, including $150 million for a national suicide hotline. It also provides funding to improve school safety.
Republican supporters, facing strong backlash from gun rights groups and most of their peers, took pains to highlight their success in keeping the bill’s scope narrow, including extending the approval of the National Sheriffs Association.
“Sheriffs see up close the daily gun slaughter perpetrated by criminals and people suffering from mental illness,” the group wrote in the letter. “We appreciate that the sponsors have come together on a bill that can truly save lives and is written in a way that allows states to develop their own unique responses to gun violence issues.”