President Biden signed into law the first major gun safety legislation that has been passed by Congress in the last 30 years. This action from the president came after the most recent mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 children and two adults.
The Texas tragedy came just 10 days after a mass shooting with racial hatred in a Buffalo, N.Y. supermarket. Ten Black people were killed in that shooting.
President Biden said just before signing the new measure, “While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives. Today, we say more than enough. We say more than enough. At a time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential.”
The legislation was passed in the House by a vote of 234-193 over the weekend. It received Senate approval on Thursday and it included incentives for states to pass what is being called “red flag” laws. These laws allow groups to ask the court to remove weapons from people who may be a threat to themselves or others.
This bill will also expand the law that exists which keeps people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun. Now, it will include dating partners and not just spouses and former spouses. And it will expand background checks on those who are 18-years-of-age to 21-years-of-age.
The National Rifle Association says that it opposes the new legislation.
“This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians,” the NRA said in a statement.
The negotiations for legislation were led by Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat for Connecticut. There were 10 Senate Republicans and 10 Senate Democrats involved in the negotiations.
Murphy said that the bill does not do everything that he wants to be done, but it will be used to save thousands of lives and it doesn’t violate anyone’s Second Amendment rights.
This move from President Biden comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court issuing a landmark decision that ruled there is a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense. This decision struck down a New York law that restricted the right to concealed carry in the state. The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, said that the decision was both reckless and reprehensible.
“Our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can because of what is going on: The insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court,” Hochul said.
The bill that was passed and signed into law by President Biden will be known as “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. It is the first major federal gun reform law to be passed by both chambers on the Hill since the Brady bill which was signed almost 30 years ago.
A huge catalyst for getting this bill through the process was the tragic testimony of a fourth-grader from the elementary school in Texas who was trapped in her classroom during the shooting. She testified that she smeared the blood of a classmate on her body and pretended to be dead to survive the terror in the school.
After the signing of the bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a bill enrollment ceremony and said that Congress was ”honoring a promise in honor of all those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.”