The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan gun safety bill Thursday that could become the most significant federal gun legislation in decades if it is signed into law.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed the chamber 65-33 with 15 Republicans joining Democrats in support of the legislation. The legislation now goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, which has promised swift passage.
Breaking what U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy called a three-decade logjam, the bill doesn’t do everything Democrats had wanted.
“But what we are doing will save thousands of lives – without violating anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” he said before the vote Thursday.
“This will become the most significant piece of anti-gun violence legislation Congress has passed in three decades,” he said. “And as a result, this bill also has the chance to prove to a weary American public, that democracy is not so broken that it is unable to rise to the moment, when the need for action like right now in the wake of Uvalde and Buffalo is most acute.”
The bill includes enhanced background checks and clarification of the so-called boyfriend loophole, which prevents domestic abusers from purchasing guns, unmarried or not. It also includes funding for mental health and school safety. And it includes incentives for states to implement red-flag laws.
The bill was drafted by a bipartisan group of Senators, including Murphy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, following the mass shooting at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers, as well as another mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
In his remarks before the vote, Blumenthal recalled what happened 10 years ago following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“When we failed to take action then on a very modest [bill] improving the background checks system – we had 55 votes but not enough to reach 60 – I will never forget the cry of, ‘Shame! Shame!’ that came from that gallery,” Blumenthal said.
“I remember the Sandy Hook families were in that gallery and at least two of them are here today, Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley. Today it’s not only those families in the gallery, it is the movement that those families, through their immeasurable grief and unthinkable trauma, created in the wake of that unimaginable murder,” he said. “That movement is here comprised of survivors and first responders, medical professionals, educators, advocates, and so many others. And today when the United States Senate passes the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we won’t hear cries of shame. There will be cries of relief finally.”