The Senate advanced legislation for a bipartisan gun safety bill in a 64-34 vote on Tuesday night, four weeks after the Uvalde shooting. Fourteen Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in backing what would be the first major legislation on gun safety since 1994.
The legislation would enhance background checks for gun purchasers younger than 21; make it easier to remove guns from people threatening to kill themselves or others, as well as people who have committed domestic violence; clarify who needs to register as a federal firearms dealer; and crack down on illegal gun trafficking, including so-called straw purchases. In addition, the legislation includes new spending for mental health treatment and school security.
Prior to the vote, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn was joined by the three other lead negotiators Sens. Chris Murphy, Kyrsten Sinema and Thom Tillis in a statement saying that the legislation would “protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country.”
“Our legislation will save lives and will not infringe on any law-abiding American’s Second Amendment rights,” the senators said in a statement. “We look forward to earning broad, bipartisan support and passing our commonsense legislation into law.”
Tuesday’s procedural vote puts the Senate on track to meet negotiators’ self-imposed timeline to pass the legislation before lawmakers leave Washington for their July Fourth recess.
At the GOP convention this weekend, Cornyn was met with boos for his role in the bipartisan negotiations. In a speech on the floor of the Senate, he acknowledged the divisiveness of the issue, but said that he felt confident that senators would see the deal as a reasonable compromise.
“This is an issue that divides much of the country, depending on where you live, and maybe divides people living in the same household. But I think we have found some areas where there’s space for compromise and we’ve also found that there are some red lines and no middle ground,” Cornyn said on the floor of the Senate. “We’ve talked, we’ve debated, we’ve disagreed and finally we’ve reached an agreement among the four of us but obviously this is not something that is going to become law or fail to become law because of a small group of senators. The truth is we had a larger group of 20 senators, 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, come together and sign on to an agreed set of principles, and I believe that as the senators see the text that supports those principles, they will see we’ve tried our best to be true to what those agreed principles should be.”