Fifteen Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and 14 Republican House members voted with Democrats on Thursday and Friday to pass new gun safety legislation, scoring a major victory for advocates while serving a rare defeat for the National Rifle Association.
Known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, it’s the most sweeping bill designed to prevent gun violence in decades. The bill includes billions of dollars in funding for state mental health services and school security and also targets the “boyfriend loophole” that allows dating partners to own guns after being convicted of domestic abuse. The bill also provides grants to states to adopt “red flag” laws, which allow courts to remove firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others. It now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
Ten of the Senate Republicans were part of initial negotiations over the bill in May, following mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas that put pressure on lawmakers to finally set aside the politics and come together on the human aspect of the legislation.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said, “Shooting after shooting, murder after murder, suicide after suicide — for 30 years, Congress stood in its political corners and did nothing. But not this time. This will become the most significant piece of anti-gun-violence legislation Congress has passed in three decades.” Murphy negotiated which policies would end up in the bill with Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis, (R-NC).
What are we doing? Why are we here?
Four weeks ago I asked the Senate those two simple questions.
Tonight, we delivered the answer.
The first significant gun safety bill in 30 years just passed the United States Senate. 65-33.
I’m exhausted. And grateful.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 24, 2022
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Friday before the House vote: “As I say to members all the time with legislation, do not judge it for what isn’t in it. But respect it for what is. And there’s much to be respected in this legislation.” The Speaker then directed her comments at the Republicans, saying, “To those who lacked the courage to join in this work, I say your political survival is insignificant compared to the survival of our children,” she said.