WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill aimed at curbing gun violence, taking action a month after the horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, intensified pressure for a response to the Congress.
Fifteen Republicans joined all Democrats in favor of the measure. The House is expected to pass the bill on Friday and send it to President Joe Biden’s office for his signature.
The legislation, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, includes modest restrictions on getting firearms as well as funding to strengthen mental health care and school safety. It is the product of a bipartisan compromise after weeks of Sens-led negotiations. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The measure improves background checks for people under 21, prompts states to pass “red flag” laws, which help get guns out of the hands of people deemed a danger to themselves or others, and prohibits dating partners convicted of domestic violence who are not married to their victim from obtaining firearms.
However, it does not include the broader restrictions sought by gun control advocates, such as banning assault weapons, raising the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles to 21 years, the imposition of safe-at-home storage rules or the requirement of background checks on sales on the Internet and at gun shows.
Nonetheless, it is the most significant federal gun legislation in decades. Democrats and gun control advocacy groups welcomed it as a sign of progress after years of deadlock in Congress to address gun violence.
“This will become the most significant gun violence legislation Congress has passed in three decades,” Murphy said ahead of the vote. “This bill also has the chance to prove to the weary American public that democracy is not so broken, that it is capable of rising up to the moment.”
Cornyn, who was greeted with a chorus of boos at his state party convention last Friday, acknowledged that Republicans needed to get out of their comfort zone. But he said ‘the potential we have to save lives is worth any sort of concession we might have had to make during negotiations’.
“I don’t believe that we should do nothing about what we have seen in Uvalde and in other communities. Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility,” he said.
The Huffington Gt