WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – A bipartisan package of modest gun safety measures was approved by the U.S. Senate on Thursday, even as the Supreme Court vastly expanded gun rights by ruling that Americans have the right constitutional right to carry arms in public for self-defense.
The landmark court ruling and Senate action on gun safety illustrate the deep divide over firearms in the United States, weeks after the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, that killed to more than 30 people, including 19 children. read more
The Senate bill, passed on a 65-33 vote, is the first significant gun control legislation to pass in three decades, in a country with the highest per capita gun ownership in the world and the most Annual mass shootings among wealthy nations.
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“This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Children in schools and communities will be safer because of her,” President Joe Biden said after the vote. “The House of Representatives should immediately vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my desk.”
The bill, which supporters say will save lives, is modest: Its most important restriction on gun ownership would tighten background checks for would-be gun buyers convicted of domestic violence or major crimes when they were minors.
Republicans refused to commit to more radical gun control measures favored by Democrats, including Biden, such as a ban on assault rifles or high-capacity magazines.
“This is not a panacea for the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long-awaited step in the right direction,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote.
The Supreme Court ruling earlier Thursday, pushed by its conservative majority, struck down New York state limits on carrying concealed firearms outside the home.
The court found that the law, enacted in 1913, violated a person’s right “to keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. read more
In the Senate vote late Thursday, 15 Republicans joined 50 Democrats in voting for the bill.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded the bill’s passage, saying in a statement that it would move through the House on Friday and come up for a vote as soon as possible.
House Republicans had instructed their members to vote against the bill, though since the chamber is controlled by Democrats, their support was not needed for the bill’s passage.
Biden will sign the bill.
The Senate action came weeks after an impassioned speech by Biden, in which he declared “enough” of gun violence and urged lawmakers to act.
Polls show most Americans support some new limits on guns, demands that often rise after mass shootings like those in Texas and New York.
Democrats warned Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling could have dire consequences for gun safety across the country.
“The Supreme Court got the ruling wrong,” Sen. Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator on gun safety legislation, said in an interview.
“I’m deeply concerned about the court’s willingness to take away from elected bodies the ability to protect our constituents and that has really serious implications for the security of our country,” said Murphy, whose home state of Connecticut, where 26 people died . in a 2012 shooting at an elementary school.
Conservatives defend a broad reading of the Second Amendment, which they say limits most new restrictions on gun purchases.
The bipartisan 80-page Senate Safer Communities Act would encourage states to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed dangerous and strengthen background checks for would-be gun buyers convicted of domestic violence or major felonies when they were minors. old.
More than 20,800 people will have died from gun violence in the United States in 2022, including by homicide and suicide, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group.
The Supreme Court ruling, written by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, stated that the Constitution protects “the right of an individual to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home.”
“This is a monumental victory for NRA members and for gun owners across the country,” Jason Ouimet, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Legislative Action Institute, said in a statement.
“This ruling opens the door to wisely change the law in the remaining seven states that still do not recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection.”
In the Senate, Republican supporters of the new gun safety bill said the measure does not erode the rights of law-abiding gun owners, who are among its most ardent constituents.
“It doesn’t even touch the rights of the overwhelming majority of American gun owners, who are law-abiding, sane citizens,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who backs the legislation.
The bill provides funds to help states adopt “red flag” laws to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are considered a danger to themselves or others. It would also fund alternative intervention measures in the state where red flag laws are opposed and provide increased school safety.
Closes the “boyfriend loophole” by denying those convicted of abusing intimate partners in dating relationships the purchase of guns, though if they have no further convictions or penalties, they will be allowed to buy again.
It also allows states to add juvenile criminal and mental health histories to national background check databases.
Sen. John Cornyn, the bill’s lead Republican negotiator, was booed last week while discussing its contents during a speech to a GOP convention in his home state of Texas.
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Reporting by David Morgan, Andrew Chung, and Moira Warburton; additional reporting by Rose Horowitch, Katharine Jackson, Richard Cowan, and Dan Whitcomb; Edited by Scott Malone, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis
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