US Congress Sends Historic Gun Violence Legislation to Biden | gun violence news

The US House of Representatives has passed important gun safety legislation for the first time in three decades in the US, and has sent it to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.

The House of Representatives voted 234-193 in favor of the bill on Friday, a day after the Supreme Court ruled broadly expanding gun rights. No Democrats opposed, while 14 Republicans supported the measure.

“The legislation … includes several powerful steps to save lives, not only from horrific mass shootings but also from the daily carnage of gun crime, suicide and tragic accidents,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during the debate.

Noting that guns have become “the leading killer of children in America,” Pelosi said Congress should now go further and enact more changes to background checks on gun sales and restrictions on “high-capacity armaments.”

The law was supported by major law enforcement groups and its passage was a rare defeat for American gun manufacturers and the NRA’s arms lobby group.

The House’s passage of the legislation followed a 65-33 vote in the US Senate late Thursday to pass the law, with 15 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voting in favour.

Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the legislation includes ‘strong steps to save lives’ [J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo]

Gun control has long been a contentious issue in the United States, with multiple attempts to set new controls on arms sales failing over and over again.

The legislation was a direct result of the murders of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Ovaldi, Texas, exactly one month earlier, and the murder of 10 black shoppers days earlier in Buffalo, New York.

Lawmakers returned from their districts after the shooting, saying voters were calling on Congress to take action.

The bill takes some steps for background checks by allowing, for the first time, access to information about serious crimes committed by juveniles.

It also suppresses gun sales to buyers convicted of domestic violence, and provides new federal funding to states that administer “red flag” laws aimed at removing guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others.

“No legislation can make their families or communities complete,” Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said of these victims. “But we can work to prevent others from experiencing the same trauma.”

Gun control group Brady called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act “the most powerful gun violence prevention law in the past 30 years,” and cited “100 people killed by guns every day” in the United States. Many of these died by suicide.

For conservatives who dominate House Republicans, it all comes down to the Second Amendment’s right to the people to own firearms, which is an essential protection for many voters who own guns.

“Today they come after our Second Amendment liberties, and who knows what they will be tomorrow,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican member of the Judiciary Committee.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court, by a 6-3 conservative majority, overturned New York state’s restrictions on carrying concealed handguns outside the home. The court found the law, enacted in 1913, to be unconstitutional.

The NRA, the nation’s most powerful gun lobby, declared the court ruling a “tremendous victory” for American gun owners.

On Friday, she attacked the bill passed by Congress, calling it a “meaningless” gun control measure that “would only infringe the rights of law-abiding people.”

The legislation is seen as modest in scope for a country with the world’s highest per capita gun ownership and the largest number of mass shootings annually among wealthy nations.

The U.S. firearms death rate in 2020 rose 35% to the highest point since 1994, with levels particularly lethal to black youths, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report published May 10.

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