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U.S. Senate passes gun safety bill as Supreme Court knocks down handgun limits

World Jun 24, 2022 05:17AM ET
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4/4 © Reuters. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters following the Senate Democrats weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz 2/4

By David Morgan, Andrew Chung and Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A bipartisan package of modest gun safety measures passed the U.S. Senate late on Thursday even as the Supreme Court broadly expanded gun rights by ruling Americans have a constitutional right to carry handguns in public for self-defense.

The landmark court ruling and Senate action on gun safety illustrate the deep divide over firearms in the United States, weeks after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, killed more than 30 people, including 19 children.

The Senate bill, approved in a 65-33 vote, is the first significant gun control legislation to pass in three decades, in a country with the highest gun ownership per capita in the world and the highest number of mass shootings annually among wealthy nations.

"This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it," President Joe Biden said following the vote. "The House of Representatives should promptly vote on this bipartisan bill and send it to my desk."

The bill, which supporters say will save lives, is modest - its most important restraint on gun ownership would tighten background checks for would-be gun purchasers convicted of domestic violence or significant crimes as juveniles.

Republicans refused to compromise on more sweeping gun control measures favored by Democrats including Biden, such as a ban on assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines.

"This is not a cure-all for the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long overdue step in the right direction," Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor ahead of the vote.

The Supreme Court ruling earlier on Thursday, pushed through by its conservative majority, struck down New York state's limits on carrying concealed handguns outside the home.

The court found that the law, enacted in 1913, violated a person's right to "keep and bear arms" under the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.

In the Senate vote late on Thursday, 15 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in voting for the bill.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded the bill's passage and said in a statement it would advance in the House on Friday, with a vote coming as soon as possible.

House Republicans had instructed their members to vote against the bill, although since the chamber is controlled by Democrats their support was not needed for the bill's passage.

Biden will sign the bill into law.

The Senate action came weeks after an impassioned speech by Biden, in which he declared "enough" of gun violence and urged lawmakers to act.

Polls show that a majority of Americans support some new limits on firearms, demands that typically rise following mass shootings like those that occurred in Texas and New York.

Democrats warned that the Supreme Court ruling on Thursday could have dire consequences for gun safety nationwide.

"The Supreme Court got the ruling wrong," Senator Chris Murphy, the lead Democratic negotiator on the gun safety legislation, said in an interview.

"I'm deeply worried about the court's willingness to take away from elected bodies the ability to protect our constituents and that has real grave implications for the safety of our country," said Murphy, whose home state of Connecticut, where 26 people were killed in a 2012 shooting at an elementary school.

Conservatives defend a broad reading of the Second Amendment, which they say limits most new restrictions on gun purchases.

The Senate's 80-page Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would encourage states to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed to be dangerous and tighten background checks for would-be gun buyers convicted of domestic violence or significant crimes as juveniles.

More than 20,800 people have been killed in gun violence in the United States in 2022, including through homicide and suicide, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit research group.

'MONUMENTAL WIN'

The Supreme Court ruling, authored by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, declared that the Constitution protects "an individual's right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home."

"This is a monumental win for NRA members and for gun owners across the country," said Jason Ouimet, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, in a statement.

"This ruling opens the door to rightly change the law in the seven remaining states that still don't recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection."

In the Senate, Republican backers of the new gun safety bill said that the measure does not erode the rights of law-abiding gun owners, who are among their most ardent constituents.

"It does not so much as touch the rights of the overwhelming majority of American gun owners, who are law-abiding citizens of sound mind," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said, who backs the legislation.

The bill provides funding to help states adopt "red flag" laws to keep firearms out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others. It would also fund alternative intervention measures in state where red flag laws are opposed and provide for enhanced school security.

It closes the "boyfriend loophole" by denying gun purchases to those convicted of abusing intimate partners in dating relationships, although if they have no further convictions or penalties they will be allowed to purchase again.

It also allows states to add juvenile criminal and mental health records to national background check databases.

Senator John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator on the bill, was booed last week as he discussed its contents during a speech before a Republican Party convention in his home state of Texas.

U.S. Senate passes gun safety bill as Supreme Court knocks down handgun limits
 

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Comments (14)
Jack Peterson
Jack Peterson Jun 25, 2022 9:18AM ET
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Little Chuckie Schister always looks like a deer in the headlights…. Much like Biden
gab nea
gab nea Jun 24, 2022 6:40AM ET
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why do the Republicans and they supreme stoolie and his ginni, want everyone to carry a handgun? they say they are fearful and need self defense. what are they fearful of? oh that everyone else is packing too? isn't that what they want? do they want to sling it on their hips in public? or hide it and pull it out last minute cowardly? have they not learned anything from tombstone?
John Hat
John Hat Jun 24, 2022 6:40AM ET
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#LibtarrrdExtremist
John Brown
John Brown Jun 24, 2022 6:11AM ET
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Trump 2024!
gab nea
gab nea Jun 24, 2022 6:11AM ET
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losers keep disgracing themselves, when they are not trying to overturn our democracy. never again.lock him up for good, the traitor and his duped followers.
Samantha
Samantha Jun 24, 2022 3:33AM ET
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Read the bill before commenting. Or if you have read the bill and are still upset, I hope you're not one of those stalker types that assaults his girlfriend.
Abc Xyz
Abc Xyz Jun 24, 2022 2:34AM ET
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We need guns for self defense, because funking cops are useless
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Jun 24, 2022 2:34AM ET
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You were doing good then you sounded like a little baby that doesnt understand anything.
carlos guo
carlos guo Jun 23, 2022 11:04PM ET
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The Texas shooting just confirmed the need for more citizens, including teachers, to be armed. It is so funny seeing the left try and gaslight the failure of police with needing to disarm the population. Notice how the DC police let people, literally opened the doors, for the people on January 6. But the police in Texas were literally detaining parents preventing them from being able to go in and save their children. The most dangerous thing that a population can do is allow leftist regimes to disarm them. Even Adolph was anti-gun and banned citizens from owning guns, and he was a socialist.
Elezabeth Thomas
Elezabeth Thomas Jun 23, 2022 4:00PM ET
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It is the criminally aggressive, domestic terrorists full of hate and mental insanity that must be addressed. Freedom is the greatest right there is. Freedom to choose, freedom to be safe and secure in our schools, freedom from pathalogic domestic violence, constitutional rights, bill of rights, civil rights, the right to privacy, freedom from big brother controlling, stalking, dominating in a manner that pivots above the law mentality. When individuals keep their hands and feet and guns and violence to themselves and learn to LEAVE OTHERS BE!!!!!
carlos guo
carlos guo Jun 23, 2022 4:00PM ET
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The most interesting thing are studies showing the rates of mental illness among republican versus democrat voters. There is over 200% higher rate of mental illness among democrat voters. That rate increases over 500% among people who identify as left/liberal.
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Jun 23, 2022 2:45PM ET
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the problem is the Republican party has become the party of death and forced pregnancy, and nothing else.
Show previous replies (1)
Scott Faries
Scott Faries Jun 23, 2022 2:45PM ET
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*riots in every liberal run city
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jun 23, 2022 2:45PM ET
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Scott Faries Ornately run cities. Is this why they have you on the night shift? Because your English is not so hot?
carlos guo
carlos guo Jun 23, 2022 2:45PM ET
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Scott Faries  Funny seeing the leftist Bran pop in to spew some racist/xenophobic slurs here. Anyway, translation of Ac Tektrader: "The republican party does not want women to ********babies, so they are the party of death and forced pregnancies"...as we all known, there is nothing that can be done to prevent pregnancies! Seriously, if there were just something that can be done to prevent pregnancies...they all just happen spontaneously....
Darryl Allen
Darryl Allen Jun 23, 2022 2:45PM ET
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*looks up cities with highest *****rates**checks political party of leadership*
John Hat
John Hat Jun 23, 2022 2:45PM ET
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Scott Faries
Scott Faries Jun 23, 2022 2:23PM ET
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Liberals are the problem, they have freedom and promote criminals!
Scott Faries
Scott Faries Jun 23, 2022 2:21PM ET
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The problem isn't guns! The problem is liberals going light on crime!
 
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