Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Rand Paul were among the majority of Republicans who voted against the first piece of gun legislation to pass the Senate in more than two decades, despite 15 Republicans, including Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, voting to pass it. to pass.
A total of 33 Republicans voted against the legislation, despite Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina negotiating the legislation with Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota did not vote.
The legislation comes a month after a white supremacist reportedly opened fire, killing 10 people and less than a month after a gunman opened fire, killing 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School. In the days following the shooting, Mr. McConnell charged Mr. Cornyn of Texas with negotiating the legislation, with Mr. Tillis subsequently joining.
“I’ve been saying all along that the real measure of whether we’ve succeeded or not is whether this bill will save lives. And I’m confident it will happen,” he told The Independent. “I mean, this is a tricky issue. And you know, people come from different states and different orientations and they have to make their own political calculations, but to me the best politics is good policy.”
Alabama Senator Richard Shelby was one of the senators who opposed the legislation.
“Well, I’m a Second Amendment man. I wish if we just deal with mental health and privacy issues and make it a sunset, maybe a five-year plan, but that’s not what happened,” he said. the independent†
Despite the fact that his fellow Texan, Mr. Cornyn, was one of the key negotiators of the legislation, Mr. Cruz made a lengthy speech expressing his opposition to the legislation.
“If you disarm law-abiding citizens, the people who follow the law disarm,” he said. “That is almost by definition if they are law-abiding citizens. But the criminals are not following the law.”
Along with Mr. McConnell and the negotiators, Republican Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney from Utah, Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania and Todd Young from Indiana all voted for it.
“Happy with the result,” Romney said as he stepped into the Senate elevator.
Mr. Toomey – who, along with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, had tried to pass the last major gun control legislation after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, but failed – said he was pleased that this would be part of his legacy as he retires at the end of the year.
“You know, my goal has always been to require background checks on commercial sales,” he said. “This doesn’t exactly do what Joe Manchin and I planned to do a while ago, but it extends the background checks to some categories of commercial sales. And I find that constructive. It has other elements that I think are constructive and most importantly important.”
Before the vote, the National Rifle Association announced its opposition to the legislation.
“This is a gun control bill. That’s why the NRA is against it. End of story,” it tweeted.
The legislation provides an improved assessment process for people under the age of 21 who wish to purchase a firearm to undergo an enhanced assessment of their youth and mental health records. It is also setting up a program for states to pass laws to adopt extreme risk protections — known as “red flag laws” — that prevent people who could pose a risk to themselves or others from getting a gun.
Indiana Senator Mike Braun opposed the legislation, saying Indiana has already passed a red flag law and measures to make schools safer.
“So I think most of this could probably have been done by the United States,” he said. “And especially us in Indiana probably had a Red Flag law for 17 or 18 years.”
In addition, people who make “straw purchases” — where someone who can pass a background check buys a gun for someone who couldn’t — can be either fined, up to 15 years in prison, or both. This can be increased to 25 years if the weapon is used in a terrorist act or in drug trafficking.
The bill also closes the “boyfriend loophole” – allowing people who have committed domestic violence against a romantic partner, but did not live with, married or had a child with their partner, obtain a firearm.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who was part of the bipartisan group of 20 senators who worked on the legislation, said that while the legislation is a compromise, it is bittersweet. But he also said the tide has changed since he entered the Senate in 2010.
“I think the American people are revolting. Plus the faces of those Uvalde victims combined with the memories of all the other children,” he said. “American people’s unspeakable fear of sending their kids to school every day, one of the worst parents, one parent told me in Connecticut that her kid told her there’s never been a day in the past year and she didn’t wonder go to school, if that were the day her school would be attacked.”
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, one of the most vulnerable Democrats to be reelected, said the legislation had been incredibly important since Oct. 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire at a country music concert, one of the deadliest days in Las Vegas history. used to be. vegas.
“And so yes, we are a state responsible for gun owners or secondary security,” she said. “We also pass universal background checks, we pass a red flag. This is another step forward, hopefully not just the last step, but another step forward in tackling gun violence.”
President Joe Biden, who helped draft the last piece of gun legislation passed by the Senate when he passed the federal ban on assault weapons in 1994 while he was a senator, praised the passage.
“This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Children in schools and communities will be safer as a result. The House of Representatives should immediately vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my desk.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already indicated that swift action would be taken to pass the legislation.