The House sent US President Joe Biden the most wide-ranging gun violence bill Congress has passed in decades on Friday (local time), a measured compromise that at once illustrates progress on the long-intractable issue and the deep-seated partisan divide that persists.
The Democratic-led chamber approved the election-year legislation on a mostly party-line 234-193 vote, capping a spurt of action prompted by voters’ revulsion over last month’s mass shootings in New York and Texas. The night before, the Senate approved it by a bipartisan 65-33 margin, with 15 Republicans joining all Democrats in supporting a package that senators from both parties had crafted.
The bill would incrementally toughen requirements for young people to buy guns, deny firearms from more domestic abusers and help local authorities temporarily take weapons from people judged to be dangerous. Most of its US$13 billion cost would go to bolster mental health programmes and for schools, which have been targeted in Newtown, Connecticut, Parkland, Florida and many other infamous massacres.
And while it omits the far tougher restrictions Democrats have long championed, it stands as the most impactful gun violence measure that Congress has approved since it enacted a now-expired assault weapons ban nearly 30 years ago.
The House vote was 220 Democrats and 14 Republicans in favour.
Pleased to see this pass. Taking a more cautious approach to teenagers buying firearms is very sensible.