Gun safety bill: Senate, House pass first gun legislation in decades; here’s what’s in it

Almost a month to the day after 22 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, the Senate on Thursday passed a gun safety package, the first significant gun legislation in 30 years.

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Updated 1:33 p.m. EDT June 24: The House of Representatives has passed the compromise gun violence bill, sending it to President Joe Biden, The Associated Press reported.

As for the vote, there were 234 representatives, including 14 Republicans, who voted for the bill, CNN reported. While there were 193 votes against it.

Original report: To a smattering of applause, 15 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in support of the legislation that seeks enhanced background checks and closes the “boyfriend loophole” that bans gun purchases by people convicted of domestic violence.

The 15 Republicans who voted for the bill are:

1. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate minority leader

2. Roy Blunt of Missouri

3. Richard Burr of North Carolina

4. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia

5. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana

6. Susan Collins of Maine

7. John Cornyn of Texas

8. Joni Ernst of Iowa

9. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

10. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

11. Rob Portman of Ohio

12. Mitt Romney of Utah

13. Thom Tillis of North Carolina

14. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

15. Todd Young of Indiana

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill will make the Second Amendment stronger.

“I am proud of these two complementary victories that will make our country freer and safer at the same time,” the Senate minority leader said.

“Law-abiding Americans will go to bed tonight with significantly stronger Second Amendment rights than they had this morning, while new commonsense guardrails around convicted criminals and mental illness are now on their way to becoming law.”

The bill will go to the House for consideration as early as Friday. If it passes the House, it will be sent to President Joe Biden for his signature.

“This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it,” Biden said following the vote. “The House of Representatives should promptly vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my desk.”

Here is what is in the $13 billion Bipartisan Safer Communities Act:

Red flag incentives

The bill provides states and Native American tribes with resources to create and maintain so-called red flag measures which empower courts to — for a limited time — take guns away from people determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.

Red flag laws would be consistent with state and federal due process and protections.

Enhanced background checks

The bill calls for an enhanced background check reviewing any juvenile criminal or mental health records for gun buyers younger than 21 years old.

The check would include reviews of state databases and local law enforcement.

Enhanced penalties for straw purchases

The bill calls for an increase in penalties for those who illegally straw purchase and traffic firearms. A straw purchase is one where a person buys a weapon for someone who is not legally allowed to purchase one.

Mental health services

The bill will increase funding for mental health and suicide prevention programs. Included in the funding would be money for crisis and trauma intervention and recovery services.

Additional funding would cover mental health services via telehealth programs.

Definition of a licensed dealer

Another part of the bill calls for a clearer definition of a federal firearms dealer. Individuals who sell guns as their primary source of income but who have not registered as a Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers will be required to do so if the bill becomes law.

Protections for victims of domestic violence

The bill would close the “boyfriend loophole,” a gap in a 1996 law that aims to keep guns away from domestic-violence offenders.

The loophole bans the sale of weapons only to misdemeanor domestic-violence offenders who committed their crimes against a spouse or a partner with whom they had lived or had a child.

The Senate bill expands that law by including those who committed misdemeanors against those in “current or recent former dating relationship” for the first time.

Funding for school safety resources

The bill provides money for programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.

Funding for school-based mental health and supportive services

The bill will fund programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs and school based mental health and wrap-around services.