After a horrific bout of mass shootings in New York, Texas, California and Oklahoma, the US Senate is fast-tracking a bill that, if passed, will be the most significant gun legislation since the 90s.
The bill called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would pour billions of dollars into protection for schools and mental healthcare resources and create incentives for states to individually enact so-called “red flag laws” (which allow the police to take guns away from people who are considered dangerous). It will also close the “boyfriend loophole” by making sure more domestic violence abusers are included in federal laws banning them from purchasing guns. It also allows for more extensive background checks on people under 21.
But it doesn’t go as far as Democrats have been pushing, excluding an increase in the legal age to buy a gun, bans on assault-style weapons or required waiting periods for purchasing guns. The National Rifle Association was quick to voice its opposition, with many Republican politicians following suit.
The bill’s full text was released on Tuesday, and the Senate voted 64-34 to fast-track it, meaning that a full vote could come next week. Because the bill was created by a bipartisan group of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, the bill has a fair chance of passing.
“This bipartisan gun safety legislation is progress and will save lives,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ahead of the vote to fast-track the legislation. “While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently needed.”
“Today, we finalized bipartisan, common sense legislation to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” said the four Senators leading the legislative effort, which includes two Democrats and two Republicans. “Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights. We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our common sense legislation into law.”
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell called the bill “a common sense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”