US lawmakers and aides are on pace for a final vote on a gun safety package this week after nine days of negotiations.
As they finalized a limited set of restrictions touted as the first meaningful federal weapons controls in a century, US senators released a package addressing the epidemic of gun violence ravaging the nation.
The bipartisan group that had been working on the legislation’s wording for weeks expressed confidence that it would have enough support on both sides of the political spectrum to be signed into law by Vice President Joe Biden as early as next week.
“This cross-party legislation on gun safety is progress and will save lives. This legislation is vitally needed, even though it does not include everything we desire, according to Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer.
A highly anticipated bipartisan gun safety package made its way through the Senate on Tuesday, setting up a possible floor vote on final passage by the end of the week.
Approximately two hours after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled the bill text, the Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 64-34. All 50 Democrats and 14 Republicans supported the legislation.
The senators knew they had to act quickly because the death of 10 black individuals at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in May and of 19 youngsters in Uvalde, Texas, had sparked a sense of urgency.
The last important federal gun control law, which forbade the production of assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition clips for civilian usage, was approved in 1994.
Although the daily average of mass shootings increased to 11 this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, it expired a decade later and no significant reform efforts have been made since.
On June 12, a group of senators from both parties came to an agreement on a framework that calls for money for mental health and school safety initiatives as well as improved background checks for buyers under the age of 21.
The strategy also requests cash to encourage states to enact “red flag” legislation that require them to take away firearms from people they deem to be threats.
The bill will “protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and minimize the threat of violence throughout our country,” according to the four principal negotiators, Senators Chris Murphy, John Cornyn, Kyrsten Sinema, and Thom Tillis, before the vote.
“Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights,” the senators said in a statement. “We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law.”
The procedural vote on Tuesday puts the Senate on track to fulfill the deadline set by the negotiators to enact the bill before legislators depart for their July Fourth break. The legislation would be the most substantial response by Congress to a mass shooting in almost 30 years.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared his intention to support the legislation on Tuesday, calling it a “commonsense package of popular steps.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised that the Senate would “proceed to final passage as fast as feasible.”
While senators involved in the negotiations had hoped to complete the legislative language last week, discussions stalled over two issues: how to support so-called red flag laws, which permit the seizure of weapons from those deemed a danger to themselves or others, and closing the “boyfriend loophole” by extending restrictions on the purchase of firearms by people who have abused romantic partners.
Republicans have voiced reservations about the enhanced limits’ definition of a long-term connection as well as the significance of returning gun rights to those with petty offenses. By the time lawmakers published the legislative text, those problems had been fixed.
“This bill is not going to please everyone,” Cornyn said. “But I believe the … same people who are telling us to do something are sending us a clear message: to do what we can to keep our children and communities safe.”
Cornyn said he wanted at least 70 senators to support the bill, but so far, five Republicans who weren’t among the original ten to support the framework have stated they might support it if it comes to the floor. During a closed-door GOP lunch last week, conservative members of the conference objected to some of the framework’s elements. The Texas GOP also chastised Cornyn and the other Republicans for taking part in the gun talks over the weekend.
Tuesday night, the National Rifle Association declared that it would oppose the proposed legislation, claiming that “it falls short at every level” and “does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners.”