The wide-ranging US legislation cleared a procedural vote with the help of more than a dozen Republicans
A bipartisan group of US senators has advanced a major gun control bill, setting it up for a full floor vote in the upper chamber. If passed, the law would mark the most significant legislation of its kind in decades, expanding background checks for those buying firearms in addition to a series of other restrictions.
The ‘Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’ passed a procedural vote by 64-34 on Tuesday night, with 14 GOP senators joining all 50 Democrats to back the motion. The 80-page bill calls to strengthen background checks to allow authorities up to 10 days to review juvenile and mental health records for gun-buyers under the age of 21, and would devote millions of dollars to encourage states to implement ‘red flag laws,’ which permit the government to confiscate firearms from those deemed dangerous.
Among other provisions, the law would also close the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole,’ meaning domestic abusers will be prohibited from purchasing guns, even if the perpetrator is not married to their victim. Federal law previously only applied to married couples, a rule long condemned by gun control advocates.
Despite some remaining opposition from Republicans, the GOP’s top senator, Mitch McConnell, has backed the legislation, saying: “Our colleagues have put together 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.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, said he expects the bill to pass the upper chamber in a full vote as soon as the end of the week.
The House of Representatives passed its own gun control package this month, which goes further than the Senate’s version, calling to raise the purchasing age for certain rifles from 18 to 21, also urging an outright ban on high-capacity magazines.
A number of GOP lawmakers, as well as Second Amendment advocates such as the National Rifle Association, have condemned the new gun control initiatives, with the NRA insisting it is “committed to real solutions to help stop violence in our communities,” but pledging to oppose any effort to “override constitutional due process protections” as well as “efforts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their fundamental right to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The latest legislative push follows a pair of high-profile mass shootings in recent months. On May 24, a lone gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school. Ten days earlier, a shooting spree at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, left 10 people dead.