US passes first significant gun legislation in decades
Less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court strengthened the right to bear weapons, US lawmakers broke a decades-long deadlock on gun control Friday by approving the first significant safety rules in almost 30 years.
As a result of numerous mass shootings in recent years, the question of gun legislation has become a political hot potato for both conservatives and liberals in the United States.
The bipartisan Senate gun bill received unanimous support from the Democratic-led House of Representatives, and while it is minor, it represents the first meaningful weapons regulation legislation since 1994.
The 80-page measure received unanimous support from both parties late Thursday and fourteen Republicans defied their leader Kevin McCarthy to vote in favor of it.
A century-old New York law requiring permits for pistol concealed carry was overturned by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court just hours before to that decision.
The gun measure includes stricter background checks for younger purchasers as well as federal funding for states to enact “red flag” laws that permit temporary weapon confiscation from someone deemed a threat.
Billions of dollars have been set aside to stop the sale of firearms to persons who are not authorized to possess them and to crack down on gun trafficking.
Two shootings in May that left 21 people dead, largely young children, at a school in Texas and 10 Black grocery patrons dead in upstate New York rekindled the bitterly polarized debate over gun regulation.
The Supreme Court had divided along partisan lines, with the three Democratic appointments dissenting and the six Republican appointees voting to strengthen the constitutional right to bear guns.
While supporters of increased gun rights applauded the decision, gun control advocates’ anticipated day of celebration was overshadowed.
Despite dissatisfaction at the legislation’s constrained scope, which excludes any prohibition on semi-automatic guns or high-capacity magazines, liberals had been celebrating the congressional action.
“This decision won’t stop our grassroots army from doing what we’ve done for a decade: fighting to keep our families safe,” added Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said after the Supreme Court ruling was announced.
“Just as we’re breaking the logjam in Congress, we’re going to work day-in, day-out to mitigate the fallout in New York and any other states impacted by this decision and elect gun-sense lawmakers up and down the ballot.”
Everytown Law’s principal litigation counsel, Eric Tirschwell, asserted that the Supreme Court had incorrectly applied key constitutional concepts and that the organization was “ready to go to court” to defend limitations.
Prominent Republicans praised the court’s ruling.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “This is not only a long-awaited victory for lawful gun owners across America; it is a victory for all people and our constitutional order itself.”
According to McCarthy, the decision “rightfully ensures the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves without needless government meddling.”
“The decision comes at an important time — as the Senate considers legislation that undermines Second Amendment freedom,” Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president, said in a statement.
“This decision unequivocally validates the position of the NRA and should put lawmakers on notice: no law should be passed that impinges this individual freedom.”