U. S. Senate passes historic gun violence bill, House is next

by mcdix

The Senate Thursday easily passed a bipartisan gun violence bill that seemed unthinkable a month ago, paving the way for final congressional approval of what will be lawmakers’ most far-reaching response in decades to the series of brutal mass shootings in the United States. After years of GOP procedural delays, Democrats and some Republicans decided Congressional negligence was untenable after last month’s shootings in New York and Texas. The vote on the final approval of the gun violence law was 65-33. It took weeks of closed-door talks, but a group of senators from both sides came forward with a compromise that embodied a step-by-step but impactful move to curb the bloodshed that has regularly shocked the nation — no longer surprises.

Measures approved

The $13 billion measure would tighten background checks for the youngest gun buyers, protect firearms from more perpetrators of domestic violence and help states enact warning laws that would make it easier for authorities to take guns from dangerous people. It also funds local school safety, mental health, and violence prevention programs. The election-year package fell short of tougher gun restrictions that Democrats have been pushing for years, including a ban on the assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in the Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas murders.

Democrats, Republicans Declare Victory

Still, the accord allowed leaders of both parties to declare victory and demonstrate to voters that they knew how to compromise and make government work while leaving room for each party to appeal to its key supporters. “This is not a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation,” said Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., whose party has made gun restrictions its goal for decades. “But it is a long-awaited step in the right direction. Passing this gun safety law is important, and it will save lives.”

U. S. Senate

SenatInd to the Second Amendment right to bear arms that drive many conservative voters said Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, “The American people want their constitutional rights to be protected and their children safe in school. ” The day proved bittersweet for proponents of curbing gun violence. He said, “They want both things at once, and that’s exactly what the Senate bill will have accomplished.” To underscore the lasting power of conservative influence, the right-leaning Supreme Court issued a decision extending Americans’ right to bear arms publicly. The judges have repealed a law in New York requiring people to prove they must carry a gun before being licensed. The vote on the last passage was 65-33.

Termination of a filibuster by GOP senators

Hours earlier, Senators voted 65-34 to end a filibuster by conservative GOP senators. That was five more than the 60-vote threshold required. The House was scheduled to vote on Friday, and approval seemed certain. In that vote, 15 Senate Republicans joined all 50 Democrats, including their two allied independents, to vote to pass the legislation. But that vote highlighted the risks Republicans face from defying the party’s pro-gun voters and gun groups like the National Rifle Association. Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Indiana Todd Young were the only two of the 15 to be re-elected this fall. Of the rest, four will retire, and eight will not have to deal with voters until 2026.

Republicans Who Voted ‘No’

Significantly, among the GOP senators who voted “no,” potential 2024 presidential candidates included 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 voted ‘no’, including Sens. Rand Paul from Kentucky and Mike Lee from Utah. While the Senate move was a clear breakthrough, the prospects for continuing Congress’ action on gun ownership are bleak. Less than a third of the Senate’s 50 GOP senators supported the measure, and solid Republican opposition is certainly in the House. Top House Republicans urged a “no” vote in an email from No. 2 GOP leader, Rep. Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, who called the bill “an effort to take away 2nd amendment rights from law-abiding citizens slowly.” Both chambers — now closely controlled by Democrats — could be run by the GOP after November’s midterm elections.

Response from Biden

In a statement, President Joe Biden said residents of Uvalde told him during his visit that Washington needed to act. “Our children in schools and our communities will be safer because of this legislation. I call on Congress to get the job done and get this bill on my desk,” Biden said. The Senate action came a month after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde. A white man was accused of racism just days before that when he murdered ten black grocery stores in Buffalo. Both gunmen were 18 years old, a youthful profile shared by many mass shooters, and the brief timing of the two massacres and victims many could identify with sparked a demand from voters for action, lawmakers said.  The talks 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 staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, while Cornyn was involved in previous gun talks following mass shootings in his state and close to McConnell.

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