US Senate passes gun safety bill as Supreme Court overrules handgun limits

A bipartisan package of modest gun safety measures passed the US Senate late on Thursday, even as the Supreme Court ruled that wide-expanded gun rights by Americans to carry handguns in public in self-defense were constitutional. have the right.

Historic court decisions on gun safety and the Senate’s action reflect a deep division over firearms in the United States weeks after the mass shootings. Uvalde, TexasAnd BuffaloMore than 30 people died in New York, including 19 children.

The Senate bill, approved in a 65-33 vote, is the first significant gun control law to be passed in three decades, the nation with the highest per capita gun ownership in the world and the highest number of annual mass shootings among wealthy nations.

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“This bipartisan law will help protect Americans. Children in schools and communities will be safer because of it,” President Joe Biden said after the vote. “The House of Representatives should immediately vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my table.”

The bill, which supporters say will save lives, is modest – its most significant restraint on gun ownership would strengthen background checks for gun-buyers convicted of domestic violence or significant crimes such as juveniles.

Republicans refused to settle on more comprehensive gun control measures supported by Democrats, including Biden, such as a ban on assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines.

“This is not a cure-all the way gun violence affects our country, but it is a long-overdue step in the right direction,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote.

Supreme Court ruling Earlier Thursday, its conservative majority pushed through, lowering the New York state limit on carrying concealed handguns 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.

In Senate voting late Thursday, 15 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in voting for the bill.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the bill’s passage and said in a statement that it would go ahead in the House on Friday, with a vote coming as soon as possible.

House Republicans instructed their members to vote against the bill, although since the chamber is controlled by Democrats, their support was not required for the bill to be passed.

Biden will sign the bill into law.

The Senate action came weeks after Biden made an impassioned speech in which he declared gun violence was “enough” and urged lawmakers to take action.

Polls show that most Americans support some new limits on firearms, a demand that typically grows after the mass shootings in Texas and New York.

Democrats warned that Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling could have dire consequences for gun safety across the country.

“The Supreme Court got the ruling wrong,” Senator Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator on gun safety legislation, said in an interview.

read more, Freedom and Fear – The Foundations of America’s Deadly Gun Culture

Murphy, in whose home state of Connecticut 26 people were killed, said, “I am deeply concerned about the court’s ability to protect our constituents from elected bodies and that this would have real serious implications for the security of our country.” Is.” In a 2012 shooting at an elementary school.

Conservatives defend a broad reading of the Second Amendment, which they say limits most of the new restrictions on gun purchases.

The Senate’s 80-page bipartisan Safe Communities Act would encourage states to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed dangerous and tighten background checks for gun buyers convicted of crimes as significant as domestic violence or juveniles .

According to the non-profit research group, the Gun Violence Archive, more than 20,800 people have died in gun violence in the United States in 2022, including homicide and suicide.

‘Monumental victory’

The Supreme Court decision, written by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, declared that the Constitution “protects a person’s right to self-defense outside the home.”

“This is a major victory for NRA members and gun owners across the country,” Jason Oumet, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.

“This decision opens the door to rightly changing the law in the seven remaining 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 their most enthusiastic constituents.

“This does not touch the rights of the overwhelming majority of American gun owners, who are law-abiding citizens of sound mind,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The bill provides funds to help states adopt “red flag” laws to keep firearms out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others. It will also fund alternative intervention measures in states where red flag laws are opposed and provide increased school safety.

It closes the “boyfriend loophole” by denying the purchase of guns to people convicted of abusing intimate partners in dating relationships, although they will be allowed to buy again if there is no further punishment or punishment. .

It also allows states to add juvenile criminal and mental health records to the national background check database.

The key Republican negotiator on the bill, Senator John Cornyn, was booed last week as he discussed its contents during a speech ahead of a Republican convention in his home state of Texas.