The House on Friday passed a bipartisan gun violence bill that amounts to the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades.
The final tally was 234 to 193 with 14 Republicans voting with Democrats to approve the measure.
Now that the House has passed the bill, it will go to President Joe Biden to have it signed into law, marking a significant bipartisan breakthrough on one of the most contentious political issues in Washington. The Senate passed the bill in a late vote on Thursday.
The measure includes millions of dollars for mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include minors’ records in the nation’s instant criminal background check system.
It also makes significant changes to the process when someone between the ages of 18 and 21 goes to buy a gun and closes the so-called boyfriend loophole, a victory for Democrats, who have long fought for it.
The package represents the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since the expiration of the 10-year assault weapons ban in 1994 – although it does not ban any weapons and falls well short of what Democrats and polls show most Americans want to see.
Getting bipartisan agreement on major gun legislation has been notoriously difficult for lawmakers in recent years, even in the face of countless mass shootings across the country.
Democrats in particular were quick to celebrate the bipartisan gun deal, as tackling gun violence is a top priority for the party.
But the bill’s passage was overshadowed on Friday by news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, believing that there was no longer a federal constitutional right to abortion.
The opinion is the most significant Supreme Court decision in decades and will transform the landscape of women’s reproductive health in America.
It came a day after the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago that places restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun in the exterior of the house.
The rulings once again underscore the limited power of the Democratic Party, despite it controlling both branches of Congress and the White House.
Despite broad bipartisan support for the bill in the Senate, top House Republican leaders opposed the bill and urged their members to vote “no.”
Fourteen House Republicans, however, voted for the bill. They included:
- Liz Cheney from Wyoming
- Adam Kinzinger from Illinois
- Tom Rice of South Carolina
- John Katko from New York
- Maria Salazar from Florida
- New York’s Chris Jacobs
- Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania
- Michigan’s Peter Meijer
- Michigan’s Fred Upton
- Tony Gonzales from Texas
- Steve Chabot from Ohio
- Mike Turner from Ohio
- David Joyce from Ohio
- Ohio’s Anthony Gonzalez
The bill passed the Senate on Thursday with 15 Republicans joining Democrats in support. The final tally was 65-33.
The legislation was crafted in the wake of recent mass shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, located in a predominantly black neighborhood.
A bipartisan group of negotiators got to work in the Senate and unveiled legislation on Tuesday. The bill – titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – was introduced by Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Lawmakers then rushed to pass the bill before leaving Washington for the July 4 recess.
As lawmakers sought a compromise, there were times when it was unclear whether the effort would succeed or fall apart. But while the bipartisan effort appeared to be on thin ice after several key sticking points emerged, negotiators were finally able to resolve the issues that arose.
The bill includes $750 million to help states implement and manage crisis response programs. The money can be used to implement and manage whistleblowing programs – which, through court orders, can temporarily prevent people in crisis from accessing firearms – and for other programs crisis intervention such as mental health courts, drug courts and veterans courts.
This bill closes a years-old loophole in domestic violence law — the “boyfriend loophole” — that barred those convicted of crimes of domestic violence against spouses, partners with whom they shared children or partners with whom they cohabited to have firearms. The old laws did not include intimate partners who could not live together, be married or share children. Now the law will make it illegal for anyone convicted of a crime of domestic violence against someone with whom they have a “continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature” to have a firearm.
The law is not retroactive. However, it will allow those convicted of domestic violence offenses to restore their gun rights after five years if they have not committed other crimes.
The bill encourages states to include minors’ records in the nation’s instant criminal background check system with grants and implements a new protocol for checking those records.
The bill targets individuals who sell guns as their primary source of income, but who have previously avoided registering as federally licensed gun dealers. It also increases funding for mental health and school safety programs.
This story and headline were updated with additional developments on Friday.