U.S. Senate passes landmark bipartisan gun violence bill


The United States Senate passed a bipartisan bill Thursday night to address gun violence in the country, the first major piece of federal gun reform in almost 30 years.

The final vote was 65 to 33 with 15 Republicans joining Democrats in support of the measure, marking a significant bipartisan breakthrough on one of the most contentious policy issues in the US.

The bill will now go to the House for a vote, where it could come up for vote as early as Friday, before it can be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The House has 435 voting members with Democrats enjoying a majority of 220-210 over the Republicans.

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

The bill comes with a US$13.2 billion price tag and it includes millions of dollars for mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBCS).

“This is not a cure-all for the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long overdue step in the right direction,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor ahead of the vote.

Senate Republicans were careful not to erode their voter base, most of who overwhelmingly support the Second Amendment right to bear arms. “It does not so much as touch the rights of the overwhelming majority of American gun owners, who are law-abiding citizens of sound mind,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday.

The vote on the federal gun safety bill comes on the same day as the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law regulating concealed handguns in public that mandated residents demonstrate a specific need to carry a handgun outside of their homes.

More than 390 million guns are owned by civilians in the U.S. In 2020 alone, more than 45,000 Americans died from firearms-related injuries including homicides and suicides.

In 2022, nearly 21,000 people have been killed in gun violence – both by homicide and suicide – according to non-profit research group Gun Violence Archive. 

This move comes at a time of heightened support for gun control following a string of high-profile mass shootings.

The May 24 massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers, was the bloodiest mass shooting in the United States this year, which occurred only 10 days after another shooting that killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.