Closed-door talks lasted for almost a month, but a group of senators came out with a compromise that represented a gradual but effective move.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday easily approved a bipartisan gun violence bill that seemed unthinkable a month ago, clearing the way for congressional final approval of lawmakers’ widest-ranging response in decades to the nation’s spate of brutal mass shootings.
After years of GOP procedural delays that derailed Democrats’ efforts to curb firearms, Democrats and some Republicans decided that congressional inaction after last month’s shootings in New York and Texas was untenable. It took weeks behind closed doors, but a group of senators from both parties emerged with a compromise that embodies a gradual but effective move to stem the bloodshed that has regularly shocked — but no longer surprised — the nation.
The $13 billion measure would tighten background checks on the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms away from more domestic violence perpetrators, and help states introduce warning signs that make it easier for authorities to remove guns from people deemed dangerous. It would also fund local school safety, mental health and violence prevention programs.
The election-year package fell well short of tighter gun restrictions Democrats have been seeking for years, including bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in the Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas killings. But the deal allowed leaders of both parties to declare victory and show voters they know how to compromise and make government work, while leaving room for each side to appeal to their key supporters.
“This is not a panacea for all of the impact of gun violence on our nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., whose party has targeted gun restrictions for decades. “But it is a step in the right direction that is long overdue. Passing this Gun Safety Act is truly significant and will save lives.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, alluding to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that drives many conservative voters, “The American people want their constitutional rights protected and their children in are safe in school.” He said, “They want both at the same time, and that’s what the Senate bill will have achieved.”
The day proved bittersweet for advocates of curbing gun violence. The right-wing Supreme Court issued a decision extending Americans’ right to bear arms in public, underscoring the continuing power of conservative opinion. Judges have struck down a New York law that requires people to prove they must carry a gun before being licensed to do so.
The vote on the final passage was 65-33.
Hours earlier, senators voted 65-34 to end a filibuster of conservative GOP senators. That was five more than the required threshold of 60 votes. The House of Representatives planned to vote on the measure on Friday, and approval seemed certain.
In that vote, 15 Senate Republicans joined all 50 Democrats, including their two allied Independents, to vote on legislation.
That vote, however, highlighted the risks Republicans face in opposing the party’s gun-friendly voters and firearms groups like the National Rifle Association. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana were the only two of the 15 running for re-election this fall. Of the remainder, four will retire and eight will not face voters until 2026.
Significantly, GOP senators who voted “no” included potential 2024 presidential candidates such as Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tim Scott of South Carolina. Some of the party’s most conservative members also voted no, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.
While the Senate action was a clear breakthrough, the prospects for continued Congressional motion on gun restrictions are bleak.
Less than a third of the Senate’s 50 GOP senators backed the measure, and solid Republican opposition is assured in the House of Representatives. Republicans in the Supreme House of Representatives asked for a “no” vote in an email from GOP No. 2 Chairman, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, describing the law as “an attempt to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens after WWII.” slowly weakening the amendment”.
Both chambers — now narrowly controlled by Democrats — could well be led by the GOP after November’s midterm elections.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said Uvalde residents told him Washington needed to act when he visited. “Our children in schools and in our communities will be safer as a result of this legislation. I urge Congress to finish the job and get this bill on my desk,” Biden said.
The Senate lawsuit came a month after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde. Just days earlier, a white man was accused of being motivated by racism when he killed 10 black grocery shoppers in Buffalo. Both shooters were 18, a juvenile profile shared by many mass shooters, and the close timing of the two massacres and victims, which many could identify with, called voters to action, lawmakers from both parties said.
The interviews were conducted by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, RN.C. Murphy was representing Newtown, Connecticut, when an attacker killed 20 students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, while Cornyn was involved in previous gun talks following mass shootings in his state and is close to McConnell.
Murphy said the measure would save thousands of lives and was a chance “to prove to a weary American public that democracy isn’t so broken that it’s unable to rise up right now.”
“I don’t believe in doing nothing given what we’ve seen in Uvalde and elsewhere,” Cornyn said.
The bill would make the local juvenile records of people ages 18 to 20 available during required federal background checks when attempting to purchase guns. Those investigations, currently limited to three days, would take a maximum of 10 days to give federal and local officials time to search records.
People convicted of domestic violence who are current or former romantic partners of the victim would be barred from acquiring firearms, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole”.
This ban currently only applies to people who are married to, live with, or have had children with the victim. The Compromise Act would extend this to those deemed to have had “an ongoing serious relationship”.
There would be money to help states enforce red flag laws and other states without them for violence prevention programs. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have such laws.
The measure expands the use of background checks by rewriting the definition of the federally licensed gun dealers required to conduct them. Penalties for gun trafficking are increasing, billions of dollars are being allocated to behavioral clinics and school psychiatric programs, and there is money for school safety initiatives but not for staff to use a “dangerous weapon.”
https://www.fox43.com/article/news/nation-world/gun-bill-on-road-to-passage-senate-overcomes-republican-filibuster-delays/507-56875e29-9049-4dd9-9f08-7b72ce5521f1 Gun bill: Senate overcomes Republican filibuster