The Senate on Thursday night approved a bipartisan bill to address gun violence that amounts to the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades.
The bill passed as some Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure, marking a significant bipartisan breakthrough on one of the country’s most contentious political issues. The bill will then go to the House of Representatives for a vote before it can be sent to President Joe Biden to sign into law.
The bipartisan arms deal includes millions of dollars for mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile criminal records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). .
It also makes significant changes to the process when someone 18 to 21 years old goes to buy a firearm and closes the so-called couples loophole, a victory for Democrats, who have long fought for it.
The package represents the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since a 10-year assault weapons ban that expired in 1994, though it doesn’t ban any guns and falls far short of what Democrats and polls say. show that most Americans want to see.
There were a few dozen people in the Senate gallery before the final vote. Senators had noted that there were gun violence survivors, family members and groups on hand to watch the historic House vote.
The vote on the federal gun safety bill came on the same day the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago that places restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon in public.
The ruling highlights the conflicting political forces surrounding the issue at all levels of government, as the judiciary implements the most extensive expansion of gun rights in a decade, just as the legislature appears on track to pass its largest arms control package in nearly 30 years.