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House passes historic gun safety bill, sends reform package to Biden to become law

  • June 24, 2022

a bipartisan gun deal Friday, all but cementing the biggest reform package passed by Congress in nearly 30 years. 

Legislation first crafted and passed by the Senate now moves to President Joe Biden, who urged Congress Thursday to “finish the job” so he could sign it into law. 

Unlike the Senate vote Thursday, when 15 Republicans joined Democrats to pass the gun deal, the House voted mostly along party lines.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise encouraged their members to vote against the legislation after the conservative House Freedom Caucus asked them to whip against it. 

House Democrats have a 220-210 margin and ultimately passed the gun deal 234-193. 

Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican who represents Uvalde, Texas, broke ranks with his party and voted in favor of the legislation. 

Earlier in the week, he said it’s his “duty to pass laws that never infringe on the Constitution while protecting the lives of the innocent.” 

The House debate on the gun bill came shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s watershed decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, rolling back five decades of legal abortions. 

Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eliminating constitutional right to abortion

For example, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said he found it difficult to not address it. 

Nadler said the justices in their ruling indicated this was “just the beginning of a radical, right-wing effort to roll back other rights, including the right to contraception, the right to marry whomever we choose and the fundamental right to privacy.”

Senate gun deal leaves voters on both sides unsatisfied, frustrated

“While more is needed, this package will take steps to save lives,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier this month. 

Beyond the Senate package, House Democrats will fight for nationwide background checks, banning high-capacity magazines and raising the age to buy weapons, which Pelosi said “must also become law.” 

Senate Republicans said those efforts will never make it through their chamber. 

What the two sides have been able to agree on is what passed in the Senate: enhanced background checks on young buyers, more money for school security and mental health services, closing the “boyfriend loophole” and incentivizing “red flag” laws. 

The legislation provides grants to every state that adopts “red flag” laws, which allow courts to remove firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others. States that do not enact red flag laws may use the money for other crisis-prevention programs. 

The Senate vote:Senate passes bipartisan gun deal for the first time in three decades, giving Biden needed win

Senators also approved expanded background checks on gun buyers 21 and younger to include their mental health and juvenile justice records. The legislation forces a waiting period of 10 business days for the seller and authorities to complete the review.

Such a review could have stopped mass shootings last month in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, as well as a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, senators said. 

The legislation also closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” a legislative gray area that leaves some women vulnerable to gun-related domestic violence.

the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law, making it easier for Americans to carry handguns and continuing a divisive political debate on firearms. 

It also comes at a time when the president needs an accomplishment he can take to the American people, who are increasingly frustrated by the rising costs of living and stalled progress on several pieces of Biden’s agenda. 

Debate continues:Congress could pass Senate gun deal, but a larger, fractious impasse is unlikely to shift

SCOTUS decision:The Supreme Court just made a monumental ruling on gun rights. Here’s what it means

Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at cwoodall@usatoday.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.

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