The U.S. Senate passed new gun control legislation on Thursday in a bipartisan vote that saw the chamber approve the first gun safety bill in 28 years in the wake of recent mass shootings.
Senators passed the Safer Communities Act by a vote of 65 to 33, with a majority of Republican members opposed. Enough Republicans joined Democrats to surpass the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome the filibuster.
The legislation includes measures to enhance background checks on gun purchasers under 21 years old, it creates new criminal penalties for so-called straw purchases and for gun trafficking and it includes new funding for states to administer “red flag” laws and for mental health and school safety, among other measures.
The bipartisan push for new gun safety measures comes after a mass shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 people dead and a major incident at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that saw 19 children and two teachers killed.
Here is the list of Republican senators who voted against the bill:
John Barrasso of Wyoming
Two Republican senators – Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Kevin Cramer of South Dakota – didn’t vote.
Senator Lankford explained his decision to vote against the legislation in a statement on Thursday, saying the bill “created new gun limits in ways that will not solve the problem and does not protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. It incentivizes states to adopt red flag laws, which often treat individuals as guilty until proven innocent.”
Senator Hagerty said: “I’ve said for weeks Congress should consider what it can do to address root causes of senseless massacres we’ve seen far too often, but sadly, this bill gives the gov’t more power to restrict Tennesseans’ constitutional rights, which does not make anyone safer.”
Senator Hoeven said the legislation would “infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens” and Senator Cramer made a similar argument, saying he “cannot support legislation which restricts the Second Amendment right to bear arms for law-abiding American citizens.”
“I don’t vote for attacks on the Constitution,” Senator Paul tweeted. “I offered amendments to fix the constitutional attacks included in the Democrat gun bill. Sadly my amendments were denied.”
Senator Blackburn tweeted: “The Second Amendment is non-negotiable.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , who voted in favor of the bill, praised its passage and also celebrated a Supreme Court decision on Thursday that struck down a New York law that required people to show “proper cause” in order to receive a license to carry a gun outside the home.
“I am proud of these two complementary victories that will make our country freer and safer at the same time,” McConnell said.
Second Amendment Rights
“Law-abiding Americans will go to bed tonight with significantly stronger Second Amendment rights than they had this morning, while new common sense guardrails around convicted criminals and mental illness are now on their way to becoming law,” he said.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas led the bipartisan negotiations on the bill, along with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He spoke in support of the legislation on the Senate floor on Thursday.
“I don’t believe in doing nothing in the face of what we saw in Uvalde and we’ve seen in far too many communities,” Cornyn said. “Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility as representatives of the American people here in the United States Senate.”
The legislation will now head to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be passed quickly in the Democrat-controlled chamber. President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill.
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