President Joe Biden Saturday signed the bipartisan federal gun control legislation known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
His signature on the biggest gun bill in decades came one day after the House of Representatives approved the measure by 234-193 with 14 Republicans voting in favor of passage. The Senate had passed the legislation, 65-33, the previous day.
“Time is of the essence. Lives will be saved,” Biden said during a national broadcast. “From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, El Paso, Atlanta, Buffalo, Uvalde and for the shootings that happen every day in the streets. How many times have you heard, ‘Just do something; for God’s sake, just do something’?”
“Today, we did,” Biden bragged.
Demands for gun control gained strength with legislators after two mass murder events in the previous weeks. Dozens died in subsequent shooting incidents at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store and an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.
Gun control advocates pushed for sweeping restrictions on gun ownership, including a ban on so-called “assault rifles” and preventing the sale of semi-automatic rifles to buyers under 21.
The legislation President Biden signed will expand background checks for prospective gun buyers under the age of 21. New regulations will give authorities up to 10 business days to check juvenile and mental health records. The enhanced background checks for buyers under 21 will expire in 10 years, which means it may expire like the assault weapons ban did.
Major money will flow from the federal government to community and school mental health resources across the U.S. in addition to millions specifically allocated for enhancing school safety.
Approximately $750 million is appropriated for states to fund programs such as mental health and drug courts and implement so-called “red flag” laws that let cops confiscate guns once a judge signs off on a request filed against an individual.
The bill further penalizes gun trafficking and straw purchasing where an individual buys a gun then turns around and sells it to someone unable to legally buy guns.
It also closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that will now stop domestic abusers in a serious or recent dating relationship from buying or possessing guns.
More than two dozen Senate Republicans supported the measure, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Most of them are not up for reelection this year.
In addition to McConnell, the other Republican senators voting to pass the bill were John Cornyn from Texas, both N.C. senators: Tom Tillis and Richard Burr, Missouri’s Roy Blunt, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, Maine’s Susan Collins, S.C.’s Lindsey Graham, Ohio’s Rob Portman, Utah’s Mitt Romney, Pa.’s Pat Toomey, Iowa’s Joni Ernst, W.Va.’s Shelley Moore Capito, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Indiana’s Todd Young.
Fourteen House Republicans voted for it.
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