Exactly four weeks after a deranged teenager shot 19 kids and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, the Senate has voted to advance a bill, which if enacted would be the largest gun law safety law change since 1994, according to the Texas Tribune.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 64 to 34 to advance the bill, a major step toward passing the legislation in that chamber of Congress. The bill will now have to go through two more key votes in the Senate to overcome the filibuster, receive an official vote, and have to pass through the House before being submitted to the president.
The vote signals the bill can easily exceed the 60-vote threshold needed to prevent a filibuster, Fox News reported. Republicans saw 14 members break ranks and support the bill, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the main Republican negotiator for the bipartisan bill, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The 80 page bill was released Tuesday and details an extensive list of gun-control plans, including enhanced background checks for purchasers under 21, federal grants for states to implement their own red-flag laws if they choose, and funding for mental health and school safety services.
The bill also requires more gun sellers to register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers, cracks down on straw purchases, which is when a gun buyer has someone else fill out the paperwork and buys the gun on their behalf, and closes up the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by preventing gun access to people convicted of domestic abuse.
Despite the plethora of initiatives, Democrats claim the bill doesn’t go as far as they want. Though the legislation puts several barriers in place, it stops short of raising the purchasing age of automatic rifles from 18 to 21 year olds, according to Reuters.
"While it's not everything we want, this legislation is urgently needed," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) commented on the Senate floor. Schumer thinks the bill will pass the Senate by the end of this week.
On the other side, the National Rifle Association (NRA) criticized the bill, saying it "falls short at every level," also according to Fox News.
In a statement on Tuesday, the NRA said:
The NRA will support legislation that improves school security, promotes mental health services, and helps reduce violent crime. However, we will oppose this gun control legislation because it falls short at every level. It 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.
One controversial stipulation conservatives take issue with is red flag provisions, where an individual can be denied access to their firearm without consent, or even a trial, if another person accuses them of being a danger to themself or others.
While Democrats claim the provision has saved countless lives in California, the NRA and conservatives believe it’s a violation of due process and “leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials.”
Other Republicans regard the bill as absolutely necessary. McConnell called it "a commonsense package.”
Cornyn gave a speech on the Senate floor supporting the bill, saying he understands the conflict wrestling in people’s hearts over the issue.
“This is an issue that divides much of the country, depending on where you live, and maybe divides people living in the same household,” Cornyn said. “But I think we have found some areas where there’s space for compromise and we’ve also found that there are some red lines and no middle ground.”
Cornyn also stated, "We know there's no such thing as a perfect piece of legislation. We are imperfect human beings. But we have to try, and I believe this bill is a step in the right direction.”
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