US House passes bipartisan gun-safety law in victory for Biden
The US House of Representatives on Friday passed key gun safety legislation for the first time in three decades and sent it to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign the bill.
The House voted 234-193 in favor of the bill, the day after a Supreme Court ruling broadly expanded gun rights. There were no Democrats against it, while 14 Republicans supported the measure. It was supported by major law enforcement groups, and its passage was a rare defeat for US arms manufacturers and the National Rifle Association.
House action followed a late Senate vote on Thursday 65-33 to pass the bill, with 15 Republicans, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, in favor.
Gun control has long been a division in the United States with multiple attempts to introduce new controls on gun sales, again and again until Friday.
Passage of what some Democrats characterized as a modest, first-step bill followed last month’s massacres at a Buffalo, New York supermarket and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
“The legislation includes a number of strong measures to save lives not only from horrific mass shootings, but also from the daily carnage of firearms crime, suicide and tragic accidents,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during the debate.
Pelosi noted that guns have become the leading “killer of children in America” and said Congress should now move forward and enact more laws on gun sales background checks and restrictions on “high-capacity weaponry.”
The bill does, however, take some steps in the field of background checks by granting access for the first time to information about serious crimes committed by minors. It also tackles arms sales to buyers convicted of domestic violence. And it provides new federal funding to states that are enforcing “red flag” laws designed to remove guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others.
The gun control group Brady described the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” as “the strongest gun violence prevention law in the past 30 years,” and named the “100 people killed with guns every day” in America. Many of those deaths are the result of suicide.
“Today they (Democrats) are coming after the Second Amendment liberties of American citizens,” said Representative Jim Jordan, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. He referred to the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms,” which conservatives say should be universally protected.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court, by a conservative majority of 6-3, lifted New York State’s restrictions on carrying concealed pistols outside the home. The court ruled that the law, enacted in 1913, was unconstitutional.
That ruling and gun safety legislation passed Friday illustrate deep division over firearms in the United States, weeks after the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings that killed more than 30 people, including 19 young children at an elementary school.
The National Rifle Association, the nation’s most powerful gun lobby, declared the court’s ruling “a monumental victory” for American gun owners.
On Friday, it attacked the bill passed by Congress, calling it a “pointless” gun control measure that “violates only the rights of the law-abiding.”
The legislation passed by Congress is considered modest for a country with the highest gun ownership per capita in the world and the highest number of mass shootings per year among wealthy nations.
In 2020, the number of firearms deaths in the United States rose 35% to its highest since 1994, with fatal levels especially for young black men, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report published May 10.