Procedurally, the legislation still has a number of hurdles to clear in the Senate – it faces two more key votes to break a filibuster and then for final passage – but it has the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Tuesday’s vote attracted more than the minimum 10 Republican votes that will be necessary to overcome a filibuster.
It could pass the Senate by week’s end, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, and would then go onto the House of Representatives.
If passed, it would amount to the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence since the expired 10-year assault weapons ban of 1994 – though it fails to ban any weapons and falls far short of what Democrats and polls show most Americans want to see.
“As the author of the Brady background checks bill, which passed in 1994, I’m pleased that for the first time in nearly 30 years, Congress is back on the path to take meaningful action to address gun violence,” Schumer said.
The bill includes millions of dollars for mental health, school safety, crisis intervention programs and incentives for states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.
It also makes significant changes to the process when someone ages 18 to 21 goes to buy a firearm and closes the so-called boyfriend loophole, a major victory for Democrats, who had fought for a decade for that.
Aides estimated the measure would cost around $US15 billion, which Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, the lead Democratic bargainer, said would be fully paid for.
The legislation lacks far more potent proposals that President Joe Biden supports and Democrats have pushed unsuccessfully for years, derailed by Republican opposition.
These include banning assault-type weapons or raising the minimum age for buying them, prohibiting high-capacity magazines and requiring background checks for virtually all gun sales.
Teacher killed in Texas massacre farwelled alongside husband
Yet after 10 African-American shoppers were killed last month in Buffalo, New York, and 19 children and two teachers died days later in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and some Republicans decided that this time, measured steps were preferable to Congress’ usual reaction to such horrors—gridlock.