WASHINGTON DC – The Senate easily passed a bipartisan Safer Communities Act Thursday night that seemed unthinkable just a month ago, paving the way for final passage in the Senate. House of what will be the most far-reaching response by lawmakers in decades to the nation’s spate of brutal mass shootings.
After learning of the decision, President Joe Biden recalled that when he was in Uvalde, Texas, he heard a clear message from the families who were asking him for something to curb the use of weapons and from that moment he promoted that desire: “enough is enough, this time we have to do something”.
“With the bipartisan closing vote in the Senate, I’m pleased to see that Congress has come much closer to finally doing something: passing bipartisan legislation that will help protect Americans,” he said.
“Our children in schools and our communities will be safer because of this legislation. I’m calling on Congress to finish the job and put this bill on my desk.”
The bill comes after years of GOP procedural delays that derailed Democratic efforts to curb guns, with Democrats and some Republicans deciding congressional inaction was untenable after last month’s shootings. in New York and Texas.
It was weeks of closed-door talks, but a group of senators from both parties emerged with a compromise that embodies an incremental but impactful move to stem the bloodshed that has come to shock, but no longer surprise, the nation.
WHAT THE BILL CONSISTS OF
The $13 billion measure would toughen background checks for younger gun buyers, deny more domestic violence offenders access to firearms, and help states implement flag laws that make it easier for authorities to seize firearms. people considered dangerous. It would also fund local programs for school safety, mental health and violence prevention.
The election-year package fell far short of the tougher gun restrictions Democrats have sought for years, including bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in the killings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
Parents and relatives of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting have once again questioned the role of the police during the massacre.
However, the deal allows leaders of both parties to declare victory and show voters that they know how to compromise and make government work, while leaving room for each side to attract its core supporters.
“This is not a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, whose party has made gun restrictions a goal. during decades. “But it is a very backward step in the right direction. Passing this gun safety bill is really important and will save lives.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, in a nod to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that drives many conservative voters, said “the American people want their constitutional rights protected and their Children are safe at school. He said they “want both at once, and that is just what the bill before the Senate will have accomplished.”
The day was bittersweet for advocates of reducing gun violence. Underscoring the enduring power of conservative opinion, the right-leaning Supreme Court has issued a decision expanding the right of Americans to bear arms in public. The justices struck down a New York law that requires people to prove a need to carry a gun before getting a license to do so.
Loigrand De Angelis explained his point of view after the Supreme Court’s decision against the New York state gun law.
HOW WAS THE VOTING
The vote on the final bill was 65 in favor and 33 against.
Hours earlier, senators voted 65-34 to end a filibuster by conservative Republican senators. That was five more than the 60-vote threshold needed. The House planned to vote on the measure on Friday and approval seemed certain.
In that vote, 15 Senate Republicans joined 50 Democrats, including their two independent allies, in voting to advance the legislation.
However, that vote highlighted the risks Republicans face in challenging the party’s pro-gun voters and firearms groups like the National Rifle Association. Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana were the only two of 15 candidates for re-election this fall. Of the rest, four retire and eight do not face voters until 2026.
Tellingly, the Republican senators who voted “no” included potential 2024 presidential contenders like 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 Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.
While the Senate move was a clear step forward, the prospect of continued movement in Congress on gun restrictions is bleak.
Fewer than a third of the Senate’s 50 Republican senators backed the measure, and Republican opposition is sure to be strong in the House. Top House Republicans urged a “no” vote in an email from the No. 2 Republican leader, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who called the bill “an effort to slowly undermine the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Both chambers, now tightly controlled by Democrats, could well be run by the GOP after the November midterm elections.
There are 120 weapons for every 100 inhabitants.