Senate passes Gun Violence Bill, which moves on to the House
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The U.S. Senate has approved a bipartisan gun reform bill late Thursday. The yes vote now clears the way for expected House passage Friday of what will be Congress’ most far-reaching response in decades to the nation’s run of mass killings in Buffalo, New York, and then in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and some Republicans decided that in the wake of events, doing nothing was not an option.
The lengthy bill, which had the support of Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell seeks to address gun violence by increasing funding for school safety and police, expanding background checks, and adding mental health resources. It would funnel funding towards ‘red flag’ laws which allow officials to seize weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. It would also close the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole’ in an attempt to stop domestic abusers from buying guns.
Lawmakers admit some people will think the gun reform bill goes too far, while others will think it doesn’t go far enough in tackling gun violence.
“Even on a contentious issue like guns we have found a way to do something. Too much for some. Too little for others. But, it is so much more significant than the pathetic you know kind of seeing these tragedies and then politicians offering thoughts and prayers and no actions,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).
Right now, a third of Republicans support the legislation. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill hits a “sweet spot”
“The American people do not have to choose between safer schools and the Constitution. And neither does the U.S. Senate,” he said. He later added, “the legislation before us would make our communities and schools safer without laying one finger on the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens. Its key provisions are hugely popular with the American people.”
U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. voted against the gun reform legislation before the U.S. Congress. Having already provided practical solutions to the issue of school safety through his “Safe Schools Act” and with legislation to make the background check system stronger, Senator Marshall said after the vote:
“Kansans expect me to protect their Constitutional freedoms in the U.S. Senate, and I will not sacrifice those freedoms for this gun grabbing scheme. Red flag laws not only violate the Second Amendment, but they are also begging to be abused by individuals who do not have a shred of respect for due process.
Both McConnell and Democrats referred to the measures in the bill as ‘common sense.’ McConnell noted as well that “under this bill, if a teenager has been convicted of a crime or adjudicated to be mentally ill, even before their 18th birthday, that important information will show up in a firearms background check until they are 21. This strengthens the existing background check system without expanding it.”
A bipartisan group of 20 senators drafted the proposed legislation following the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas in May. Despite some Republican support, other GOP lawmakers expressed concern over how the bill was drafted. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) remarked how he believes the process was not transparent.
“I went through this with the Parkland School shooting and after that, what I did was I had a very transparent process where we went through I brought people together, mental health counselors, educators, law enforcement to come up with legislation This is not been a transparent process. This has not gone through any committees. It was a group of people, a small group of people that came up with a bill. And then within an hour after we got to see it for the first time, we were expected to vote on it,” Scott said.
The proposed legislation on gun reform does not include a ban on assault weapons because Democrats say they did not have the votes. The bill must return to the House for a final vote Friday before President Biden can sign it into law.
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