Image Source: NY Times
The US Senate has made a first move toward approving what has been described as the most crucial new gun control bill in a generation.
The bipartisan bill might be signed into law next week after senators voted to hasten its passage. The proposals, while significant, are far from what many Democrats and activists have demanded in the wake of a string of mass shootings.
For buyers under 21, the measures include stricter background checks. The bill requests funding to support the implementation of “red flag” laws by states to take away firearms from people deemed a threat. The act also allocates $15 billion (£12.2 billion) in federal funding for mental health initiatives and improvements to school security.
Additionally, it eliminates the infamous “boyfriend loophole” by prohibiting the sale of firearms to those found guilty of abusing unmarried intimate partners. This level of support from senators from the Republican and Democratic parties for proposed gun control bill marks a historical first.
Less than two hours after the final language was released, the procedural Senate vote on Tuesday night passed by a vote of 64 to 34. The bill received backing from 14 Republicans, indicating it may have enough votes to pass the Senate with no amendments.
Before reaching President Joe Biden’s desk, it must also be approved by the House of Representatives, which Democrats currently control.
The bill “will become the most significant piece of anti-gun violence legislation Congress will have passed in 30 years,” said Senator Chris Murphy, the leading Democrat in the negotiations, on the Senate floor.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer issued the following statement: “This bicameral gun control bill is a step forward and will save lives. Despite not being perfect, this legislation is desperately needed.”
In a statement announcing his support, his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, referred to the plan as “a common-sense package.”
In a statement, the National Rifle Association (NRA) criticized the legislation, claiming that it “does little to fight violent crime” and “may be misused to restrict lawful gun purchases.”
According to President Biden earlier this month, the recommendations are “steps in the right direction,” but they are still insufficient. He has advocated for more extensive changes, including a ban on assault rifles used in the mass killings in Texas and Buffalo, or at the very least, raising the legal buying age.
The last crucial federal gun control law, which forbade the production of assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips for civilian usage, was passed in 1994 but was repealed ten years later.
Among the developed countries, the US has the greatest rate of firearm-related fatalities. However, it is also a nation where many people value their Second Amendment right to “keep and carry guns,” which is guaranteed by law.
Republicans have already thwarted Democratic efforts to tighten US gun control regulations. After the Connecticut Sandy Hook school shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults, efforts to tighten US gun control laws failed to win enough support in Congress.
With 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress, legislation requires 60 votes to pass to avoid the tactic known as the filibuster. Republicans make up ten of the 20 senators who developed the framework for the new legislation, indicating that the proposals have the support necessary to advance.