The House reached a remarkable milestone on the same day the Supreme Court, across from the United States Capitol, handed down its historic decision to overturn right to abortion as established in Roe vs. Wade, painting a dramatic picture in Washington. Democrats cheered, smiled and linked arms after the gun measure passed the House, a stark change from their previous grim faces.
The gun legislation is the result of negotiations by a handful of Republican and Democratic senators, led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), following the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas., and Buffalo.
In addition to providing funding for mental health services and school safety initiatives, the legislation expands criminal background checks on some gun buyers, prohibits a larger group of domestic violent offenders from buying firearms and funds programs that would allow authorities to seize firearms from people in trouble. .
The bill was passed in the House by an overwhelming majority according to the parties, 234 against 193, without any Democratic defections. Fourteen Republicans voted in favour, including Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Tex.), who represents Uvalde, the small town that is now the infamous home to the second-largest mass school shooting after that in Newtown, North America. Connecticut, almost a decade before.
Democrats were seen hugging Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), who ran for Congress after her son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in the aftermath an argument over loud music at a gas station. They congratulated her after the provisions she supported were incorporated into the bipartisan package.
McBath sobbed audibly on the floor of the House after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) handed her a piece of paper with the final vote tally, causing McBath to gently place her head on Pelosi’s shoulder as they kissed.
“With this bipartisan package, we are taking the first steps to fight back on behalf of the American people, who desperately want further action to keep communities safe in the high number of polls,” Pelosi told the House. floor. “To those who have not had the courage to join this work, I say that your political survival is insignificant compared to the survival of our children.”
The Senate approved the measure, which was approved by 20 bipartisan senators, Thursday night. Fifteen Republican senators joined all of the Senate Democrats, marking a historic and rarely seen agreement between the parties in an evenly divided Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supported the bill, while the National Rifle Association opposed it.
Senate approves bipartisan gun deal
“Behind the facade and the contrived talking points of safety, school safety and mental health, this is a gun control bill,” the NRA said on Friday.
The package is being sent to Biden’s office one month to the day after an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. The tragic loss of life shook the nation as it already faced a mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store that left 10 people dead.
The two incidents prompted Rep. Chris Jacobs (RN.Y.), a father of young girls who was born and raised in Buffalo, to break with his party and come out in support of an assault weapons ban and limitation of large-capacity magazines, including other measures. The move appears to have hurt him politically, prompting him to announce a week later that he would not run again, after losing significant GOP support.
Other retiring Republicans joined Jacobs in passing the measure, including Reps. John Katko (NY), Fred Upton (Mich.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois). Rep. Tom Rice (SC), who lost his main race, backed him up. Vulnerable GOP representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania), Peter Meijer (Mich.) and Maria Elvira Salazar (Florida), as well as several Republicans from the Ohio delegation – including Representatives Steve Chabot, Michael R. Turner and David Joyce – also voted in support.
And in her party’s most surprising defection, Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican from Wyoming facing a heated primary challenge in August, also backed the measure, meaning she will likely face attacks in her state. conservative Westerner on this issue as well as his prominent role on the committee of inquiry into the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. She worked to win over Democratic voters ahead of her primary.
“As a mother and a constitutional conservative, I am proud to support this common sense bill that will protect our children and limit violence without infringing on the rights of law-abiding Second Amendment citizens. Nothing in the bill restricts the rights of responsible gun owners. Period,” Cheney said in a statement.
Cheney aims to recruit crossover Democrats in his primary
His office also noted that the legislation received support from the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Sheriffs’ Association, groups the GOP often turns to before considering how to vote on legislation.
The legislation is modest compared to what Biden had asked of Congress, including banning assault weapons and raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. Neither is included in the compromise.
The bill, however, directs millions to increase mental health services and school safety measures, which Republicans have championed as the best ways to tackle school shootings instead of tougher measures imposed by Democrats. The measure also expands criminal background checks for some gun buyers and prohibits a larger group of perpetrators of domestic violence from being able to purchase guns under language intended to ensure that the this is called the “boyfriend flaw”. It also funds programs that would allow authorities to seize firearms from people in trouble.
The package faced less bipartisan resistance in the Senate than in the House, where Republicans said the bill didn’t go far enough in expanding school safety and made Shame on the Democrats for arguing that more laws would eliminate future school shootings.
“I’ll tell you what saves lives — the decision we received from the Supreme Court today saves lives. This bill takes the lives of law-abiding citizens,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) replied to Pelosi, referencing the Supreme Court ruling on abortion.
A small number of progressives initially had reservations about the legislation, citing concerns about funding for police presence in schools, which they said could indirectly increase the criminalization of minority students. Most Democrats thought the legislation was weak compared to the more sweeping changes they promised voters; a, Rep. Norma J. Torres, D-California, argued Friday that the bill was the “bare minimum.”
“We should be embarrassed,” she said.
Following previous mass shootings, Murphy and Cornyn tried to make a deal, but were unsuccessful. The group of 20 senators knew that meaningful and lasting reforms meant approaching negotiations without poison pills that would immediately drive Republicans off the table.
On Thursday, McConnell acknowledged that the deal “is the sweet spot … to make America safer, especially for kids in school,” and later told reporters he hopes it helps the GOP to win the goodwill of “suburban voters we need to win back to hopefully be a majority next year.
The 15 Republicans who joined all Democratic senators in supporting the bill were Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Richard Burr (NC), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Lindsey O. Graham (SC), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Thom Tillis (NC), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Todd C Young (Ind.), as well as McConnell and Cornyn.
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that some progressive House Democrats intended to oppose gun control legislation passed on Friday. All House Democrats supported the gun control bill. This version has been corrected.