US senate passes landmark gun control bill

The US Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan gun violence bill, in Congress’ most ambitious response in decades to curb mass shootings.

After years of effort, 15 Republicans joined Democrats in backing the legislation by a vote of 65 to 33. The measure comes weeks after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, killed more than 30 people, including 19 children.

The $13billion (£10billion) measure includes tougher background checks for young gun buyers and school safety, mental health and violence prevention schemes. It also calls on states to pass red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take guns from people deemed dangerous.

The bill closes the “boyfriend loophole” by denying gun purchases to those convicted of abusing intimate partners in romantic relationships.

“The families of Uvalde and Buffalo, and too many tragic shootings before, demanded action. And tonight we acted,” Biden said after the passage.

He said the House should get it to him quickly, adding: ‘Children in schools and communities will be safer because of this.’

The bill will now be sent to the House where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to quickly take it back for authorization. Once passed by the House, President Joe Biden will sign the bill into law.

Although the legislation is seen as the right direction to prevent more gun violence, the bill does not include more sweeping gun control measures such as banning assault rifles or large capacity magazines.

“This is not a panacea for all the ways gun violence affects our nation,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“But it is a step in the right direction that is long overdue.”

Earlier in the day, a 6-3 conservative-majority Supreme Court ruling struck down New York state limits on carrying concealed handguns outside the home, saying it violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which allows a person to “keep and bear arms”.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel said “the American people want their constitutional rights protected and their children safe in school.”

He said “they want both of those things, and that’s exactly what the bill before the Senate will have accomplished.”

Republican senators who voted against the bill included potential 2024 presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tim Scott of South Carolina. Mr Cruz argued that the bill would “disarm law-abiding citizens rather than take serious action to protect our children”.

More than 20,800 people have died from gun violence in the United States so far this year, including homicide and suicide, according to the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive.

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