The US Senate has voted to take the first steps toward new gun legislation.
Lawmakers voted to fast-track a bipartisan package of measures to toughen federal gun laws.
They agreed to a procedural measure that will allow the chamber to consider and vote on a bill this week. If passed, it will be the nation’s first major gun legislation in decades.
The framework for a gun safety bill is a response to last month’s demand mass shootings in UvaldeTexas and Buffalo, New York.
The legislation includes provisions that would help states keep firearms out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others and close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by blocking guns. arms sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried partners.
However, the bill stops short of raising the age limit from 18 to 21 for the purchase of automatic assault weapons.
The gunmen in Texas and New York were 18-year-olds using self-purchased assault rifles.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he expects the bill to pass this week, while Sen. Chris Murphy, the leading Democrat in talks to hammer out a legislative deal with the Republicans, called it “the most important anti-gun violence legislation Congress will ever have.” passed in 30 years”.
Mr Murphy added: “It’s a breakthrough. And more importantly, it’s a bipartisan breakthrough.”
With a 100-seat Senate evenly split between the two parties, the legislation will need the support of at least 10
Republicans to clear a procedural hurdle.
Analysis: Is America Too Deeply Divided to Address Its Gun Problem?
Fourteen Republicans joined 50 Democrats to vote on the legislation.
The nation’s largest gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, said on Twitter that it opposes the legislation because it could be misused to restrict legal gun purchases.
The politically powerful group’s statement could affect the number of Republican votes on the measure.
A total of 19 schoolchildren and two of their teachers were gunned down in a deadly rampage by high school dropout Salvador Ramos at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas last month.
Days earlier, a gunman live-streamed a “racially motivated” mass shooting that killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket.
The incidents have sparked renewed calls for changes to gun laws which, in the ten years since the deadliest school shooting in the United States – at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where 26 people were killed – changed very little.