On Thursday night, The U.S Senate approved a bipartisan gun violence bill which is set to reach the House and be signed by President Biden on Friday. The bill includes major new gun restrictions. What makes the bill stand out is that the gun law in the U.S has gone unchanged for more than a century now. Six months into the year, the U.S has experienced at least 246 mass shootings till now, as reported. On May 4th, a gunman targeted a 4th-grade class at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas, the killing injured about 17 children, and left 31 people dead. It was reported as the deadliest shooting in America since Sandy Hook. This is not a new phenomenon for the U.S, mass shooting is well known in the region now. According to the Gun Violence Archive.
The year 2021 witnessed 629 shootings overall, the year 2020 witnessed 610, and in 2019 there were 417 shootings. The records can be found here (The Gun Violence Archive). What triggered this significant move on gun violence restrictions was the recent Uvalde Texas, elementary school shooting, the suspect in the attack is a high school student who bought at least 2 rifles with him, AR-15-style rifles, before going to the elementary school, he shot as the grandmother, as per official records. This bill is a momentous bipartisan breakthrough on one of the major contentious policy issues in The U.S. The bill consists of millions of dollars for mental health, as most of the shooters of the mass killings experience some kind of mental health issues, many victims have stated the shooters were “insane” or “acted insanely”. The bill also includes millions of dollars for school safety, crisis prevention programs, and incentives for states to add juvenile records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Now as the bill is approved by The Senate, it has to pass the House of Representatives before President Biden can sign it into law.
THE NEW GUN VIOLENCE BILL – “THE BIPARTISAN SAFER COMMUNITIES ACT”
The bill holds significance as it has brought a change in nearly 30 years. Fifteen Republicans joined Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress to approve the measures by 65 votes to 33. Mr. Biden said, “after 28 years of inaction, bipartisan members of Congress came together to heed the call of families across the country and passed legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in our communities.” The bill includes stricter background checks for buyers younger than 21 and holds around $ 15 Bn in federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades and it also closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole” –it barred the individuals who were convicted of domestic violence crimes against married partners, or partners with whom they shared children or partners with whom they cohabitated, from having guns. Now the new law will bar anyone from having a gun who is convicted of a domestic violence crime against someone they have a “serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature”. The bill also goes after the individuals who sell guns as primary sources of income but have previously evaded registering as a federally licensed firearms dealer.
What marks this bill of major significance is that it has gotten support from both the Democrats and Republicans, it is marked as a historic move to strengthen US gun laws. All 50 Democrats were joined by deal-making republicans the vote share was 65-34. The Republicans who voted in support of the measure are –
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- Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate minority leader
- Roy Blunt of Missouri
- Richard Burr of North Carolina
- Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
- Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
- Susan Collins of Maine
- John Cornyn of Texas
- Joni Ernst of Iowa
- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
- Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
- Rob Portman of Ohio
- Mitt Romney of Utah
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina
- Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
- Todd Young of Indiana
Though the bill is retroactive it is significantly bringing a change in the U.S and the mass shooting phenomenon. The law is required for the safety of the children. In a statement, President Biden stated “This bill will help protect Americans”.