The bill, spearheaded by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, comes in the wake of several recent mass shootings. One at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, was the major driver behind the bipartisan effort.
“This is an incredibly important day in the United States Senate. Final passage will be either later today or early tomorrow, and we will be well on our way to saving 1000s of lives in this country,” Murphy said Thursday. “30 years Congress has done nothing to try to address the epidemic of school shootings and murders and suicides in this country. And while this doesn’t do everything we need to do. This is a way that we show it’s possible to break the logjam.”
The bill would provide funding for states to create programs that could keep weapons away from people who are dangers to themselves or others, often called red flag laws. It would also enhance background checks for gun buyers under 21, add penalties for some gun criminals and provide funding for a variety of health and mental health-related programs.
It also addresses close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which is a gap in federal law that means spousal domestic abusers can have gun rights taken away but not unmarried ones.
The bill defines domestic abusers in a “dating relationship” as individuals who would then be subject to have gun rights taken away. But it would return those rights to misdemeanor offenders after five years.
“Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights,” Cornyn said. “We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is one of the Republicans who supports the bill. He said Thursday that it does not “lay one finger on the Second Amendment.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her Democrat majority are likely to be able to advance the legislation through the House. It’s possible the chamber could stay in session until the Senate passes its gun bill in order to get it to President Biden’s desk before July 4.
But House Republicans are likely to more uniformly oppose the bipartisan bill than those in the Senate. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., announced early Wednesday that he would formally whip his members against the bill.
“In an effort to slowly chip away at law-abiding citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights, this legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes,” Scalise said in a whip notice Wednesday.
“Since Biden’s election, Democrats have failed at every level. There’s literally only one way Republicans can lose the midterms,” Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., said in a press conference. “That’s exactly what these 14 RINOs, Republicans in name only, have done in the Senate.”
There will likely be some House GOP support for the bill, but Fox News is told that could top out short of 20, or even short of the 13 members who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.