The breakthrough is the work of a cross-party group of senators who have been working out the details and resolving disputes for weeks.
Lawmakers had been scrambling to complete negotiations quickly enough to capitalize on the momentum generated by the deadly shooting of 19 children in Uvalde, Texas and of 10 black people at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York. both last month.
Chris Murphy, the senator who led the negotiations for the Democrats, praised a “historic day”.
“This will be the most significant piece of anti-gun violence Congress has passed in three decades,” he said on the Senate floor.
“This bill also has a chance to prove to the weary American public that democracy is not so broken, that it is capable of rising to the moment.”
The last major federal gun control legislation was passed in 1994, introducing a national background check system and prohibiting the civilian use of assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition clips.
But it came to an end ten years later, and there has been no serious reform movement since then, despite increasing gun violence.
Biden had pushed for more substantial reforms, including a reinstatement of the ban on assault rifles — used in both the Texas and New York shootings — and high-capacity magazines.
But the political challenge of passing laws in a 50-50 Senate, where most bills require 60 votes to pass, means more sweeping reforms are unrealistic.
“The morning after the tragedy in Uvalde, the United States Senate was faced with a choice,” Schumer added.
“We can surrender to a stalemate… Or we can choose to forge a two-pronged path forward to pass a real bill, no matter how difficult that seemed to many.”
The vote came as a boon to gun safety activists hours after they were stunned by a Supreme Court ruling that Americans have a fundamental right to carry a gun in public.
The 6-3 decision overturned a more than 100-year-old law in New York that required a person to prove they had a legitimate need for self-defense in order to be licensed to carry a concealed gun outdoors.