US Senate (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was backed by all 50 Democratic senators and 15 Republicans, includes enhanced background checks for buyers under the age of 21, $11 billion in funding for mental health and $2 billion for school safety programs
US senators on Thursday (June 23) advanced a bipartisan bill that addressed gun violence in the country. The reforms are expected to be rubber-stamped by the House of Representatives. The bill approves a narrow package of new firearms restrictions and billions of dollars in mental health and school security funding
The bill is stil short of demands of gun safety advocates and President Joe Biden. But it has been hailed as a life-saving breakthrough.
Gun rights are enshrined in US Constitution and any attempt to introduce gun control meets stiff political resistance, especially from Republican party.
But shooting in Texas school in which 19 children lost lives created an uproar in public increasing pressure on lawmakers to act.
"This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans," Biden said in a statement shortly after the Senate vote. "Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it."
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was backed by all 50 Democratic senators and 15 Republicans, includes enhanced background checks for buyers under the age of 21, $11 billion in funding for mental health and $2 billion for school safety programs.
It also provides funding to incentivize states to implement "red flag" laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat.
The bill also plugs the so-called 'boyfriend' loophole. This loophole let domestic abusers evade ban on buying firearms if they were not married to or living with their victim.
"Tonight, the United States Senate is doing something many believed was impossible even a few weeks ago: we are passing the first significant gun safety bill in nearly 30 years," Senate Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer said after the legislation passed.
"The gun safety bill we are passing tonight can be described with three adjectives: bipartisan, common sense, lifesaving."
His Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell said the legislation would make America safer "without making our country one bit less free."
"This is a common-sense package. Its provisions are very, very popular. It contains zero new restrictions, zero new waiting periods, zero mandates and zero bans of any kind for law-abiding gun owners."
(With inputs from agencies)
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