June 24, 2022 -- The House passed the Senate’s bipartisan gun bill on Friday and sent it to President Joe Biden to sign into law, marking the most wide-ranging gun violence legislation in nearly 30 years, according to The Associated Press.
With a 234-193 vote, the approval fell mostly along party lines with support from every Democrat and 14 Republicans. Speaker Nancy Pelosi underscored the significance of the moment by presiding over the vote and announcing the result from the podium, the AP reported.
“Our success today will never be the end of this fight, but this is a beginning,” Rep. Lucy McBath, a Democrat from Georgia, said on the House floor.
McBath’s son was shot and killed at a gas station in 2012, according to The New York Times. She grew emotional and wiped away tears as colleagues celebrated the legislation’s passage on Friday.
“This gives us hope. This gives America hope,” she said. “This gives our communities the sorely needed hope that we have been crying out for, for years and years and years.”
The Senate approved the bill the night before, with a 65-33 vote, which included every Democrat and 15 Republicans.
A group of Democrats and Republicans worked together in recent weeks to draft the legislation, led by two Democrats — Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — and two Republicans — John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Murphy represents Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 students and six staffers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, and Cornyn has been involved in past gun talks following mass shootings in Texas, the AP reported.
The bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, is slated to toughen restrictions for ages 18-21 by expanding background checks for prospective gun buyers, preventing non-spouse domestic abusers from buying guns, and helping local authorities temporarily remove weapons from people who are deemed to be a threat to themselves and others.
Most of the $13 billion cost would bolster mental health programs and help schools, the AP reported. Parts of the legislation will support: telemedicine programs to allow expanded access to mental health, expanded school safety programs, and community-based mental health programs, according to a three-page summary of the bill.
The legislation doesn’t include some of Biden’s priorities for comprehensive gun control, such as a ban on assault rifles, a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, a higher minimum age for gun purchases, or universal background checks.
The bipartisan agreement came as a result of the deaths of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, one month ago, as well as the killing of 10 Black shoppers days before that in Buffalo, New York, the AP reported. After those mass shootings, lawmakers returned to Congress and said their constituents demanded action.
The 14 House Republicans who voted in favor of the bipartisan law included Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who has broken with her party’s leadership, the AP reported, as well as five others who are retiring.
In the Senate, 15 Republicans sided with the bipartisan law, including four who are retiring and eight who don’t face reelection until 2026, the AP reported. Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican who represents Uvalde, announced in advance that he would vote for the bill, according to NBC News.
Final approval of the bill came after the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law on Thursday that restricted where gun owners can take a firearm outside the home, The New York Times reported.
The bipartisan measure now goes to Biden, who is expected to sign it.
“This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it.”