WASHINGTON – Non-partisan Gun Violence Bill What seemed unimaginable a month ago is on the verge of final Congressional approval, a vote that will produce the broadest lawmaker response in decades to brutal mass shootings that have shocked but not surprised Americans.
The House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the $13 billion package on Friday, exactly a month after a gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Just days earlier, a racially motivated white man allegedly killed 10 black grocery shoppers in Buffalo, New York.
The two carnages – days apart and victims of helpless people for whom the public immediately felt sympathy – led both parties to conclude that Congress needed to act, especially in an election year. After weeks of talks behind closed doors, both parties’ Senate negotiations reached a compromise that took mild but effective steps to make such chaos less likely.
“Families in Uvalde and Buffalo and too many tragic shootings before have called for action. And tonight we acted,” President Joe Biden said after the passage. He said the house should send it to him quickly, adding: “It will make children in schools and communities safer.”
The legislation would tighten background checks for recent gun buyers, keep firearms away from more domestic abusers and help states introduce warning signals that make it easier for authorities to take guns away from people deemed dangerous. It would also fund local school safety, mental health and violence prevention programs.
The Senate approved the measure Thursday 65:33. Fifteen Republicans — a remarkably high number for a party that has been derailing gun curbs for years — joined all 50 Democrats, including their two independent allies, to approve the bill.
However, that meant less than a third of GOP senators supported the measure. And with House Republicans expected to be firmly opposed, the fate of future congressional action on guns seems in doubt, even as the GOP is expected to gain control of the House and possibly the Senate in November’s election.
Republicans in the Supreme House of Representatives demanded a “no” in an email from GOP leader No. 2, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He called the bill “an attempt to slowly erode the rights of law-abiding citizens under the Second Amendment.”
While the bill was notable for its contrast to Washington’s years of stalemate, it falls far short of more robust gun restrictions that Democrats have sought and Republicans have stymied for years. These included bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in the Buffalo and Uvalde killings.
The deal, however, allowed Senate leaders from both parties to declare victory and demonstrate to voters they know how to compromise and make government work, while allowing each side room to appeal to their key supporters.
“This is not a panacea for all of the impact of gun violence on our nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., whose party has targeted gun restrictions for decades. “But it’s a long overdue step in the right direction.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, alluding to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that drives many conservative voters, “The American people want their constitutional rights protected and their children in are safe at school.”
The day proved bittersweet for advocates of curbing gun violence. Underscores the enduring power of conservative opinion, the right-wing The Supreme Court has issued a decision expanding Americans’ right to carry guns in public the repeal of a New York law requiring people to show they must carry a gun before being licensed to do so.
Hours before final passage, the Senate voted 65-34 to end a filibuster by conservative GOP senators aimed at killing the legislation. That was five more than the required threshold of 60 votes.
But the Senate votes underscored most Republicans’ skepticism about opposing the party’s gun-friendly voters and firearms groups like the National Rifle Association. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Todd Young of Indiana were the only two of the 15 running for re-election this fall. Of the remainder, four will retire and eight will not face voters until 2026.
Significantly, GOP senators who voted “no” included potential 2024 presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tim Scott of South Carolina. Cruz said the legislation would “disarm law-abiding citizens rather than take serious action to protect our children.”
The discussions leading up to the bill were led by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, RN.C. Murphy was representing Newtown, Connecticut, when an attacker killed 20 students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 while Cornyn was involved in ensuing gun talks mass shootings in his state and is near McConnell.
The bill would make the local juvenile records of people ages 18 to 20 available during required federal background checks when attempting to purchase guns. Those investigations, currently limited to three days, would take a maximum of 10 days to give federal and local officials time to search records.
Individuals convicted of domestic violence who are current or former romantic partners of the victim would be barred from acquiring firearms, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole”.
This ban currently only applies to people who are married to, live with, or have had children with the victim.
There would be money to help states enforce red flag laws and other states without them for violence prevention programs. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have such laws.
The measure expands the use of background checks by rewriting the definition of federally licensed gun dealers who are required to conduct them. Penalties for gun trafficking are increasing, billions of dollars are being allocated to behavioral clinics and school psychiatric programs, and there is money for school safety initiatives but not for staff to use a “dangerous weapon.”
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/24/setting-gridlock-aside-congress-set-to-ok-gun-violence-bill/ Aside from the blockade, Congress passed the Gun Violence Act