Fourteen Republicans joined Democrats in the Senate to move forward a gun control bill on Tuesday evening.
Though aspects of new gun control legislation have been discussed for several weeks, the text of the 80-page bill was not made available to all senators until yesterday — two hours later, the procedural vote passed 64-34.
Bipartisan support of a gun control measure is notable. The BBC reported, “It is the first time in decades that proposed gun safety legislation has received this level of support from both Republican and Democratic party senators.”
The bill falls short of what many progressives hoped for, but does include provisions for tougher background checks for buyers younger than 21, $15 billion in federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades, and it blocks gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried partners, thus closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”
Influential Republican senators such as Sens. John Cornyn-Texas, Lindsey Graham-S.C., and Mitch McConnell-Ky., opened the door for others to endorse the bill.
The other Republican senators supporting the bill are Sens. Bill Cassidy-La., Roy Blunt-Mo., Richard Burr- N.C., Mitt Romney-Utah, Rob Portman-Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito-W.V., Joni Ernst-Iowa, Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, Todd Young-Ind., Thom Tillis-N.C., and Susan Collins-Maine.
The bill could move out of the Senate as early as this week. It will then move to the House where it is expected to pass by a large margin. Following approval in the House, the bill will be presented to President Biden for approval.
According to Fox News, the bill “provides grants for states that implement their own red flag laws and offers additional funding for both school safety measures and mental health services.”
Some argue that the bill allows states to access funding only if they enact “red flag laws” to restrict gun ownership or magazine capacity.
Others, such as Senator Cornyn, claimed on the Senate floor Tuesday that the bill “would not create a national red flag law, adding that states could receive the funding regardless of whether they enact such a program,” The Hill reported.
Fox News noted: “The measure also creates penalties for straw purchases of firearms [and] requires more gun sellers to register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers.”