Senate passes bipartisan gun contol bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Safer Communities Act was the first major gun safety legislation to be passed since the Brady Bill in 1994

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The Senate passed a bipartisan gun bill late Thursday night in a 65-33 vote. 

The bill, spearheaded by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, comes in the wake of several recent mass shootings. The mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, was the major driver behind the bipartisan effort. 

Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn talk to reporters following a closed-door policy meeting at the Capitol, March 8, 2016.

Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn talk to reporters following a closed-door policy meeting at the Capitol, March 8, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"I am proud that after weeks of hard work, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a bill I negotiated with my colleagues," Cornyn said. "Our bill will save lives while placing no new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the bill was the first major gun safety legislation to be passed since the Brady Bill in 1994. 

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"Tonight, the United States Senate is doing something many believed was impossible even a few weeks ago: we are passing the first significant gun safety bill in nearly 30 years," he said in a statement. "The gun safety bill we are passing tonight can be described with three adjectives: bipartisan, commonsense, lifesaving." 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talks to reporters during a press conference on Jan. 18, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talks to reporters during a press conference on Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

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The bill would provide funding for states to create programs that could keep weapons away from people who are a danger to themselves or others, often called red flag laws. It would also enhance background checks for gun buyers under 21, add penalties for some gun criminals and provide funding for a variety of health and mental health-related programs. 

It also addresses closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole," which is a gap in federal law that means spousal domestic abusers can have gun rights taken away but not unmarried ones. 

Sen. John Cornyn arrives to meet with Sens. Chris Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema, on gun violence legislation at the Capitol, June 15, 2022.

Sen. John Cornyn arrives to meet with Sens. Chris Murphy and Kyrsten Sinema, on gun violence legislation at the Capitol, June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Biden in a statement after the bill's passage said that after 28 years of "inaction, bipartisan members of Congress came together to heed the call of families across the country and passed legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in our communities. Families in Uvalde and Buffalo - and too many tragic shootings before - have demanded action.  And tonight, we acted.

"This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it. The House of Representatives should promptly vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my desk."

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All 48 Democrats and two Independents voted for the bill along with 15 Republicans. 

Sen. Chris Murphy talks to reporters at the Capitol, Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

Sen. Chris Murphy talks to reporters at the Capitol, Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Republicans who joined Democrats in voting for the bill were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Todd Young of Indiana, and Roy Blunt of Missouri. 

"The legislation that Senator Cornyn and our colleagues assembled protects the Second Amendment," McConnell said in a statement. "There are no new bans, mandates, or waiting periods for law-abiding citizens of any age. What the bill does contain are commonsense solutions that are overwhelmingly popular with lawful gun owners, such as adding juvenile criminal records and mental health issues into the background check system. It also provides significant new funding for mental health in schools."

Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee took to Twitter to say the bill would erode Americans' constitutional right to bear arms. 

"Enhanced funding for school security & mental health treatment is a good thing — but it’s being combined with giving the left a foothold to limit the 2nd Amendment." Blackburn tweeted. "I voted against the gun control bill because Americans' constitutional right to keep & bear arms is not negotiable."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wrote on Twitter, "It's common sense. If we want to keep our kids safe, do not disarm law-abiding citizens. Instead, put criminals in jail and have police officers on campus to protect our kids."

The bill now heads back to the House. President Biden has said he intends to sign it if passed. 

House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., announced early Wednesday that he would formally whip his members against the bill. 

"In an effort to slowly chip away at law-abiding citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights, this legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes," Scalise said in a whip notice Wednesday. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a statement saying, "On behalf of the House, we applaud the Senate for passing its gun violence prevention package on a strong bipartisan vote."

She said, "Every day, gun violence steals lives and scars communities — and this crisis demands urgent action.  While we must do more, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward that will help protect our children and save lives."

She said the Rules Committee would meet "first thing" Friday morning to advance the legislation to the House floor. 

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"When the Rules Committee finishes its business, we will head immediately to the Floor. And we will send the bill to President Biden for his signature, with gratitude for his leadership," she added. 

Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.