Supreme Court strikes down New York’s handgun law

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, June 22.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at the United States Capitol on Wednesday, June 22. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Just after the Supreme Court released its decision on New York’s gun law, a major bipartisan gun safety bill moved closer to final passage in the Senate on Thursday after a critical vote succeeded in advancing the measure with the support of Republicans.

The legislation is now on track to pass the Senate before the end of the week – with the possibility of a final vote as soon as later today.

The bipartisan gun deal represents the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades. It 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 10-year assault weapons ban expired in 1994 – although it does not ban any weapons and falls well short of what Democrats and polls show most Americans want to see.

The critical vote on the federal gun safety bill came on the same day the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago that imposes restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home.

The decision highlights the conflicting political forces surrounding the issue at all levels of government, as the judiciary implements the broadest expansion of gun rights in a decade, occurring just as the legislature seems on track to adopt its most significant gun safety package in almost 30 years.

A critical vote that requires GOP support: Thursday’s vote was held to overcome a GOP filibuster and needed 60 votes to pass, meaning at least 10 Republicans had to join Democrats to vote in favour.

It was set to happen, however, after 14 Republicans voted to advance the bill in a first vote Tuesday night.

Now that the Senate has broken a filibuster, the bill is on track for a final passing vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the bill to pass this week, though the exact timing of the final vote is yet to be determined. A final Senate vote could take place as early as Thursday if all 100 senators agree to a time deal. It will take place at the threshold of a simple majority.

The House would then have to consider the bill before it can be signed into law. It’s not yet clear how quickly the bill could pass through both chambers, but if the Senate holds a final vote on Thursday night, the House could pass the measure soon after.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said if the Senate passes the gun safety bill on Thursday, the House would meet and pass it on Thursday as well.

“We’re going to try to do that today,” he said. “If they move it that quickly, we will.”

Senate rules allow any senator to slow down the process, and Schumer on Thursday called on Senate Republicans to work with Democrats to pass the legislation “before the end of the day.”

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