The package represents the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since the expired 10-year ban on assault weapons in 1994, although it doesn’t ban any weapons and isn’t far below what Democrats and polls show. that most Americans want to see.
This is expected to happen, however, after 14 Republicans voted to advance the bill in an initial vote on Tuesday night.
Once the Senate breaks a filibuster, it will pave the way for a final pass vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the bill to be passed this week, though the exact timing of the final vote has yet to be determined. A final vote in the Senate could come as early as Thursday if all 100 senators agree to a temporal agreement. It will take place with a simple majority.
The House would then have to accept the bill before it can be signed into law.
The legislation was passed in the aftermath of the recent tragic mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which was located in a predominantly black neighborhood.
A bipartisan group of negotiators got to work in the Senate and presented the legislative text on Tuesday. The bill, titled Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, was published by Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Lawmakers are now racing to pass the bill before leaving Washington for the July 4th hiatus.
The fact that the text of the bill has been finalized and that the legislation now appears ready to pass in the Senate is a great victory for the negotiators who have come together to reach an agreement.
Reaching a bipartisan agreement on increased gun legislation has been notoriously difficult for lawmakers in recent years, even in the face of countless mass shootings across the country.
“For too long, political games in Washington on both sides of the aisle have disrupted progress towards protecting our communities and keeping families safe,” Sinema said in a Senate speech Wednesday.
“Blaming and trading beards and political attacks has become the path of least resistance, but communities across our country that have experienced senseless violence deserve better than Washington politics as usual,” said the Arizona Democrat. “Our communities deserve a commitment from their leaders to do the hard work of putting politics aside, identifying problems that need to be resolved, and working together toward common ground and common goals.”
Key provisions in the bill
This bill fills a years-old gap in the domestic violence law – the “fiance loophole” – which prohibited people who had been convicted of domestic violence crimes against spouses, or partners with whom they shared children or partners with whom they cohabited. , to have guns. The old statutes did not include close partners who may not live together, be married, or share children. Now, the law will prevent anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime against someone who is in a “continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature” from having a gun.
The law is not retroactive. However, it will allow people convicted of domestic violence offenses to restore their gun rights after five years if they have not committed any other crimes.
The bill encourages states to include child records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System with grants and implements a new protocol for checking those records.
The bill goes after people who sell guns as their primary source of income but have previously avoided registering as federally licensed firearms dealers. Funding for mental health programs and school safety is also increasing.
GOP split on the account
A split has emerged between some prominent members of the House and Senate GOP leadership.
But even with House GOP leaders opposing the bill, there are already some House Republicans who have indicated they want to vote in favor, and the Democrat-controlled chamber is expected to be able to pass the legislation once it is passed at Senate.
President Nancy Pelosi has promised to “get him quickly to the courtroom” of the House once he gets through the Senate, “so we can send him to President Biden’s desk.”