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The Senate passed a bipartisan gun bill Thursday night in a 65-33 vote.
The bill, spearheaded by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, comes in the wake of several recent mass shootings. The mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, was the main driver of the bipartisan effort.
“I am proud that after weeks of hard work, the Senate passed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a bill that I negotiated with my colleagues,” said Cornyn. “Our bill will save lives without placing new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill was the first major gun safety legislation to pass since the Brady bill in 1994.
“Tonight, the United States Senate is doing something that many believed was impossible even a few weeks ago: We are passing the first major gun safety bill in nearly 30 years,” he said in a statement. “The gun safety bill we passed tonight can be described by three adjectives: bipartisan, common sense, lifesaving.”
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The bill would provide funds for states to create programs that can keep guns away from people who are a danger to themselves or others, often called red flag laws. It would also improve background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, add penalties for some gun-wielding offenders, and provide funding for a variety of health and mental health-related programs.
It also addresses closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which is a loophole in federal law that means spousal domestic abusers can have their gun rights taken away, but single ones cannot.
President Biden, in a statement following the bill’s passage, said that after 28 years of “inaction, bipartisan members of Congress came together to heed the call of families across the country and passed legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in our communities. Families in Uvalde and Buffalo, and too many tragic shootings before, have demanded action and tonight, we act.
“This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Children in schools and communities will be safer because of it. The House of Representatives must immediately vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my desk.”
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All 48 Democrats and two independents voted for the bill along with 15 Republicans.
Republicans who joined Democrats in voting for the bill were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators Richard Burr, NC, Shelley Moore Capito, WV, Bill Cassidy, La., Susan Collins, Maine, John Cornyn , Texas, Joni Ernst, Iowa, Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, Rob Portman, Ohio, Mitt Romney, Utah, Thom Tillis, North Carolina, Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania, Todd Young, Indiana, and Roy Blunt, Missouri.
“The legislation that Senator Cornyn and our colleagues put together protects the Second Amendment,” McConnell said in a statement. “There are no new bans, mandates or waiting periods for law-abiding citizens of any age. What the bill does contain are common-sense solutions that are overwhelmingly popular with legal gun owners, like adding criminal records Juvenile and Mental Health Issues in the Background Check System Also provides significant new funding for mental health in schools.
“I am proud of my work to advance common sense bipartisan legislation that improves mental health care, strengthens school safety and saves lives while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding North Carolinians” Tillis said in a statement. “I am grateful for the work of my colleagues, Senators Cornyn, Murphy and Sinema, in finding common ground and producing solutions, and look forward to seeing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act enacted soon.”
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The bill now returns to the House. President Biden has said that he intends to sign it if it passes.
House Republican whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, announced Wednesday morning that he would formally whip his members against the bill.
“In an effort to slowly undermine the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, this legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crime.” Scalise said in a whip notice. Wednesday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement that said, “On behalf of the House of Representatives, we applaud the Senate for passing its gun violence prevention package with a strong bipartisan vote.”
She said, “Every day, gun violence steals lives and scars communities, and this crisis demands urgent action. While we must do more, the bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward that will help protect our children and save lives.
She said the Rules Committee would meet “first thing in the morning” Friday morning to advance the legislation to the House floor.
“When the Rules Committee finishes its work, we will immediately go to the House. And we will send the bill to President Biden for his signature, with gratitude for his leadership,” he added.
Tyler Olson of Fox News contributed to this report.