Senate clears key vote hurdle on gun bill

The Senate on Tuesday night voted to begin debate on a bipartisan effort to end gun violence, a sign of progress for what may be the broadest gun policy to come through Congress in more than three decades.

The procedural vote passed 64-34, with 14 Republicans joining all Democrats in moving the law forward and two Republicans not voting.

By clearing the 60-vote threshold required to overcome a filibuster, the measure appears to be a definitive passage, assuming there are no last-minute voting changes.

The law would increase background checks for potential gun buyers ages 18 to 21 by giving law enforcement more time to conduct the checks and encouraging states to provide juvenile records for analysis.

It would close the “friend” loophole by banning anyone convicted of molestation against a spouse or domestic partner from buying a gun.

The plan would crack down on gun trafficking and straw buying, and would fund $750 million to encourage states to create “red flag” laws that would allow guns to be temporarily taken away from people at risk of violence against themselves or others show others.

There’s also about $15 billion for mental health and school safety programs.

Bipartisan negotiators finalized the text of the law just hours before the vote, after nearly a month of negotiations. The final conversations focused on closing the “friend” gap and defining a romantic relationship. The final text states that the relationship must be romantic or intimate in nature, not business or casual acquaintances.

Lawmakers hope to hold a series of votes on the bill by the end of the week and the start of a two-week break.

The legislation is a far cry from what President Biden and many Democrats hoped for in a gun law, such as a ban on assault rifles.

But Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.), who chaired the negotiations for the Democrats, praised her for “saving countless lives and finally breaking a 30-year political deadlock on a contentious policy issue.”

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), who chaired the debate for Republicans, said they found “some areas where there is room for compromise.”

But in a sign of the political tensions that surround any Republican who supports gun action, Cornyn was loudly booed at his state’s GOP convention over the weekend for his work on the bill.

The National Rifle Assn. Also spoke out against the law, saying it does “little to really address violent crime, while it opens the door to law-abiding gun owners unnecessarily burdening the exercise of Second Amendment freedom.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed that idea, saying the legislation is “a sensible package of popular steps that will help make these horrific incidents less likely, while the 2nd remaining citizen.” “.

Cornyn and Murphy worked primarily with Sens. Thom Tillis (RN.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), although their group grew to 20 members: 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

The back-to-back mass shootings over the past month in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas have created a rare opening for the bipartisan negotiations.

Unlike after other mass shootings, when Democrats immediately called for ambitious gun policies that Republicans rejected, like banning assault weapons, lawmakers agreed to open the door to minor reforms.

Republicans, shaken by the deaths of 19 fourth-graders and two teachers in Texas and the racial motives behind the Buffalo shooting, had signaled they would come to the table. Senate clears key vote hurdle on gun bill

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