Late on Thursday night, US senators approved a restricted package of new weapons regulations and billions of dollars in financing for mental health and school security programmes as part of a bipartisan effort to combat the scourge of gun violence that is wreaking havoc throughout the nation.
The reforms, which are almost certain to be approved by the House of Representatives on Friday, fall short of the demands of gun safety advocates and President Joe Biden, but they have been hailed as a life-saving breakthrough after almost 30 years of inaction by Congress. On Friday, the House of Representatives is almost certain to vote in favour of the reforms.
In a statement released immediately after the passage in the Senate, President Joe Biden said that “this bipartisan measure will help safeguard Americans.” “As a result of it, children in schools and communities will be protected from harm.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was supported by all 50 Democratic senators and 15 Republican senators, includes provisions for increased background checks for purchasers under the age of 21, $11 billion in funding for mental health programmes, and $2 billion for school safety programme funding.
In addition to this, it offers funds to states as an incentive for them to enact “red flag” legislation, which take weapons from those who are deemed to be a danger.
A domestic abuser may circumvent a restriction on purchasing weapons via the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which allowed them to do so as long as they were not married to their victim or living with her at the time of the purchase. This provision of the bill eliminates the gap.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer made the following statement after the bill was successfully passed.
“The gun safety law that we are voting on tonight can be summarised using three adjectives: lifesaving, common sense, and nonpartisan.”
His counterpart in the Republican Party, Mitch McConnell, said that the proposal will make the United States safer “without restricting the freedom of our people in the least.”
“This is a bundle that makes logical sense. The provisions that it offers are much sought for. For law-abiding gun owners, it imposes zero new restrictions, zero new waiting periods, zero mandates, and zero prohibitions of any type.”
The National Rifle Association and a significant number of Republicans serving in both houses of Congress voted against the measure, while advocacy organisations working in the fields of police, domestic abuse, and mental illness voted in favour of it.
Beginning the next week, both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be on a two-week break. However, the measure that was passed by the Senate is likely to be approved by the Democratically controlled House before lawmakers leave town on Friday night.