Gun Control Bill Advances in Senate

The Senate voted Tuesday to begin debate on a package of gun control legislation described by proponents as “bipartisan” and “commonsense.”

The bill, referred to as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, would codify a number of new firearm restrictions and violence prevention measures, including enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21, support for states that implement red flag laws and increased funding for youth mental health services.

The legislation would also close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which had divided lawmakers in the past week, making it illegal for those convicted of domestically abusing a romantic partner to own a firearm.

The bill advanced by a vote of 64 to 34, receiving the support of all 50 Democrats as well as 14 Republicans. Democratic lawmakers now look to secure final passage of the bill before the Senate adjourns next Monday for their July 4 recess. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he expects that vote to take place by the end of the week.

In a statement, the four senators responsible for organizing the framework and text of the legislation — Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) — praised the bill’s supposed bipartisan appeal.

“Our legislation saves lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” they said in a joint statement. “We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was one of the 14 Republicans who voted to advance the bill. In a statement, McConnell referred to the legislation as a “commonsense package of popular steps.”

News of the Senate’s procedural vote has garnered mixed reactions among conservatives. Former President Donald Trump criticized the bill, arguing that Republicans like McConnell and Cornyn were bowing to “Radical Left Democrats.”

The NRA also announced their opposition, claiming the legislation “falls short at every level.” The group maintained the bill “does little to truly address violent crime,” while opening the door to “unnecessary burdens” on Second Amendment rights and leaving “too much discretion in the hands of government officials.”