WASHINGTON ― The Senate approved a bipartisan bill on Thursday aimed at curbing gun violence, taking action a month after the horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, amped up pressure on a response in Congress.
The legislation, titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, includes modest curbs on obtaining firearms as well as funding to bolster mental health care and school security. It’s the product of bipartisan compromise after weeks of negotiations led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The measure enhances background checks for people under 21, incentivizes states to adopt “red flag” laws, which help remove guns from the hands of people who have been deemed a danger to themselves or others, and prohibits romantic partners convicted of domestic violence who are not married to their victim from getting firearms.
It does not include broader restrictions sought by gun control advocates, however, such as bans on assault weapons, raising the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21, mandating safe storage rules at home, or requiring background checks on internet sales and at gun shows.
Nevertheless, it’s the most significant federal gun legislation in decades. Democrats and gun control advocacy groups welcomed it as a sign of progress after years of congressional gridlock on dealing with gun violence.
“This will become the most significant piece of anti-gun-violence legislation Congress has passed in three decades,” Murphy said ahead of the vote. “This bill also has the chance to prove to the weary American public that democracy is not so broken, that it is able to rise to the moment.”
Cornyn, who was met with a chorus of boos at his state party convention last Friday, acknowledged that Republicans had to go outside their comfort zone. But he said the “potential we have to save lives is worth any sort of concession we might have had to make during negotiations.”
“I don’t believe in doing nothing in the face of what we’ve seen in Uvalde and other communities. Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility,” he said.