Congress passes gun bill and sends it to Joe Biden for his signature

Gun control advocates hold signs in front of gun rights supporters during a demonstration for victims of gun violence in front of the Supreme Court, as arguments begin in a major gun rights case on November 3, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Joshua Roberts | Getty Images

In an effort to respond to the latest wave of bloody gun massacres, US lawmakers on Friday passed the most significant federal gun restrictions in decades, after years of false starts and failure to tighten gun laws.

After Senate approval late Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill that takes steps to restrict guns’ access to the smallest of buyers, domestic violence perpetrators and others who may pose a risk to their communities. The bipartisan Safer Communities Act would also fund school safety and mental health programs.

The House approved it by a margin of 234-193, with 14 Republicans joining all the Democrats. The legislation is headed to President Joe Biden, who is expected to quickly sign it into law.

Democrats hope the legislation will curb gun violence after lone gunmen killed black shoppers at a Buffalo grocery store and children at a Texas elementary school last month. The victory of gun safety advocates this week also came with a setback, as the Supreme Court struck down a law in New York restricting the ability to carry a concealed weapon. The ruling puts similar laws at risk across the country.

However, Democrats welcomed the legislation’s passage as a historic event after garnering the support of Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has long battled efforts to restrict gun ownership after previous mass shootings that rocked the country.

The bill: Biden said in a statement Thursday evening after the Senate approved the Senate resolution. “Families in Ovaldi and Buffalo – and so many tragic shootings before – demanded action. And tonight, we moved.”

CNBC Politics

Read more CNBC’s political coverage:

The bill passed Friday will boost background checks for gun buyers between the ages of 18 and 21. The ease of access to firearms for young people came under increased scrutiny after 18-year-olds armed with assault rifles shot both in Buffalo and Ovaldi, Texas. Democrats had hoped to ban these types of guns for those under the age of 21.

The legislation also aims to close the so-called friend loophole and restrict gun ownership for unmarried perpetrators of domestic violence from their partners. It will also establish grants for states to encourage red flag laws, which allow police or relatives and acquaintances to petition the courts for an order to remove a gun if an individual is deemed dangerous.

It will also fund school safety and mental health programs for young people. Republican gun rights advocates argued that it was these issues, rather than the proliferation of firearms, that fueled the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. Democrats have long lamented the underfunding of mental health programs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a rally with gun violence prevention organizations, gun violence survivors and hundreds of gun safety advocates calling for gun legislation, outside the United States Capitol in Washington, June 8, 2022.

Evelyn Hochstein | Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who led the passage of the more comprehensive gun bill this month, moved quickly to pass the legislation despite her concerns about its scope.

“Every day, armed violence steals lives and ravages communities – and this crisis requires urgent action,” she said in a statement Thursday. “While we must do more, the bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward that will help protect our children and save lives.”

The original proposal was to ban assault rifles for people under the age of 21 and ban certain high-capacity magazines, among other steps. It had little chance in the Senate, where Democrats have to win more than 10 Republicans to gain the 60 votes needed to break the legislative stall, and was eventually curtailed.

Conversations led by Senator Chris Murphy, MD, of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, eventually led to a breakthrough. Murphy, who represented Newtown, Connecticut, in the US House of Representatives during the Sandy Hook primary massacre in 2012, has long lobbied for new gun controls.

Fifteen Republicans, including McConnell, voted in favor of the bill in the Senate. The Republican Senate leader on Thursday drafted the legislation as a compromise between protecting schools and ensuring gun ownership rights.

“The legislation before us will make our communities and schools safer without putting a single finger on the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens. Its key provisions are very popular with the American people,” he said.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

Leave a Comment