Bipartisan gun safety bill set for votes in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate is set to vote on Thursday to advance a bipartisan gun control bill that supporters hope will help curb the mass shootings that have rocked the country , in what may be the first new federal gun legislation. in decades.

The 80-page bipartisan Safer Communities Act would encourage states to keep guns away from those deemed dangerous and tighten background checks on potential gun buyers convicted of domestic violence or crimes serious as minors.

It does not include more sweeping gun control measures favored by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, such as banning assault rifles or high-capacity magazines. Biden renewed his calls for action after a pair of high-profile shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

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The Senate legislation will need the support of 60 of the chamber’s 100 lawmakers, including at least 10 Republicans, in Thursday’s procedural vote, which is expected around noon. Democrats were optimistic after 14 Republicans backed a first step forward on Tuesday. Read more

A successful vote would set the countdown to 30 hours of debate. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Republicans to agree to expedite the process and vote on passage later Thursday.

“It’s not a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation. But it’s a long overdue step in the right direction. It’s important and it will save lives,” he said. said Schumer in a speech before the vote.

Republicans who support the bill, insisting it does not erode the rights of law-abiding gun owners, are among their most ardent voters. They also tried to dissuade Democrats from making such predictions, saying the success of the current legislation is unlikely to change their party’s attitude toward guns.

“It does not so much affect the rights of the overwhelming majority of American gun owners, who are sane, law-abiding citizens,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who supports the legislation.

But Republican supporters have come under fire over the legislation, which is opposed by the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun lobby.

The bill provides funds to help states pass “red flag” laws to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others. It would also fund alternative response measures in states where red flag laws are opposed and provide enhanced school safety.

It closes the “boyfriend loophole” by denying gun purchases to those convicted of abusing intimate partners in romantic relationships, and allows states to add criminal and mental health records juveniles to national background check databases.

Sen. John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator on the bill, was booed last week as he discussed its contents during a speech to a Republican Party convention in his home state of Texas.

Senator Richard Durbin, House Democrat No. 2, said the bill would provide $4.5 billion in funding to the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. A Republican aide put the overall price of the measure at $13.3 billion, saying the cost was fully offset by funds from elsewhere in the federal budget.

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Reporting by David Morgan, additional reporting by Katharine Jackson, Moira Warburton and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis

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