Less than a month after the massacre that killed 21 at a Texas elementary school, a bipartisan group in the US Senate passed a bill to improve gun violence protections. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who was involved in the negotiations, wrote on Twitter that it was “the most important law against gun violence in almost 30 years”.
“This law will save thousands of lives.” Critics, meanwhile, spoke of a minimal compromise that only slightly tightened the lax gun laws in the United States.
US Senate approves better protections against gun violence
The draft law cleared a first procedural hurdle in the Senate in the vote on Tuesday evening (local time) with a non-partisan majority and is now to be passed quickly. For this, the Democrats of US President Joe Biden in the House of Representatives are dependent on the support of at least ten Republicans – a threshold that was even exceeded on Tuesday. Success therefore seems likely. After that, the House of Representatives would have to approve the bill before Biden can sign it.
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Among other things, the draft law provides for more intensive screening of potential gun buyers who are under 21 years old. The proposal also seeks to expand state laws that allow guns to be confiscated from potentially dangerous individuals. Illegal arms trafficking should be punishable at the federal level. In addition, billions of US dollars are to be invested in mental health care and anti-violence programs. Funds are also earmarked for school security.
Republicans are still not opposed to guns outright
Many Republicans argue that the rise in gun attacks is due to a rise in mental illness, not the ready availability of guns. The bill does not include the ban on assault rifles demanded by Biden and other Democrats.
On May 24, an 18-year-old shot dead 19 children and two teachers with an assault rifle in the elementary school in the small Texas town of Uvalde.