The U.S. is on its way to signing into law a major gun legislation package for the first time in decades. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new bipartisan bill on Friday, offering up a major federal gun safety package for President Joe Biden to sign into law.
About the Bill
The vote in the House came in at 234 to 193. Of the 234 representatives who voted to pass the legislation, 14 were Republicans. The Senate passed the bill late Thursday with a vote of 65 to 33, meaning 15 Republicans joined the Democrats in supporting the measure. This rare showing of bipartisan support comes on the heels of a rash of mass shootings across the nation, including a May incident that took the lives of 19 fourth graders in Uvalde, Texas.Read More »
Joining the Democrats in the House to vote for the legislation were a number of key Republican leaders. This list includes Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Tony Gonzales of Texas, representing the district that is home to Uvalde, is another Republican who voted to pass the bill.
Elements of the Legislation
The proposed legislation includes millions of dollars of federal funding for mental health services and school safety resources. The bill would also incentivize states to include the records of juvenile offenders in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The bill also boasts $750 million to help states institute and operate crisis intervention services, including red flag programs. This type of program is used to temporarily prevent people in crisis mode from accessing firearms.
One of the most contentious parts of the bill is what is known as the boyfriend loophole. Previous statutes had banned those convicted of domestic violence crimes against married partners or those they shared children with or lived with from owning guns. However, the restrictions did not include partners who may not live together, share children, or be married, creating a loophole. The new legislation will close this loophole and extend the prohibition of gun ownership to a larger group of potentially dangerous individuals.
Lastly, the bill includes more stringent background checks for those individuals under the age of 21.
What the Bill Does Not Include
While there is no doubt that the legislation is a significant step forward for gun safety advocates, the included measures fall well short of what most Democrats were pushing to pass. Gun control legislation has been a key tenet of the Democratic Party over the last several years, however, there had been little to no progress made at the federal level until now.
The bill does not address a ban on assault weapons, an element that most Democrats have been wanting to pass through.
Although most polls demonstrate that a majority of Americans want more gun control legislation in place, it has been increasingly difficult to pass in recent years. The last significant gun control measure was passed in the U.S. in 1994. This legislation banned the manufacturing of assault rifles and large capacity magazines for civilian use. However, this legislation expired after one decade as law.
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