WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval on Friday to a bipartisan compromise intended to stop dangerous people from accessing firearms, ending nearly three decades of congressional inaction over how to counter gun violence and toughen the nation’s gun laws.
The House approved the measure 234 to 193 one month to the day after a gunman stormed into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and used a semiautomatic rifle to kill 19 children and two teachers, sparking outrage across the country and a flurry of negotiations on Capitol Hill. The measure now heads to President Biden, who is expected to sign it.
“This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans,” he said in a statement on Thursday evening. “Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it.”
The House on Friday approved bipartisan gun legislation that was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate late the night before, sending it to President Biden for his signature. It marks the most significant update to the nation’s gun laws in nearly three decades.
The bill, called The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed the lower chamber by a vote of 234-193, with 14 Republicans joining all the Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi read the vote tally after it concluded to applause from the members of Congress on the floor.
The bill passed the House 234-193 on Friday afternoon, with 14 Republicans voting with all Democrats to support it. Members who supported the bill cheered and applauded in the chamber as House Speaker Pelosi announced that it had passed.
The bipartisan gun legislation, written in response to the shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, flew through a usually slow-moving Congress. After the bill passed the Senate Thursday night, 65 to 33, Pelosi applauded the “strong bipartisan vote” and said the House would immediately vote on the bill before lawmakers leave Washington for a two-week recess marking July Fourth.
“Every day, gun violence steals lives and scars communities — and this crisis demands urgent action,” she said in a statement. “While we must do more, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward that will help protect our children and save lives.”
The bill would provide grants to states for “red flag” laws, enhance background checks to include juvenile records, and close the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping guns away from non-spouse dating partners convicted of abuse.
Although a majority of House Republicans voted no Friday, just over a dozen moderate members broke with their party to support the legislation.
House GOP leaders, meanwhile, voiced opposition to the bill, denounced by the National Rifle Association, and pushed members of their conference to vote against it.
“This legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., wrote in a notice to GOP members. “House Republicans are committed to identifying and solving the root causes of violent crimes, but doing so must not infringe upon” Second Amendment rights.
Meanwhile, Biden, who actively called on Congress to take action to address gun violence, said Thursday that he was looking forward to signing the bill into law.
“I am glad to see Congress has moved significantly closer to finally doing something — passing bipartisan legislation that will help protect Americans,” he said in a statement. “Our kids in schools and our communities will be safer because of this legislation. I call on Congress to finish the job and get this bill to my desk.
Still, the plan garnered support from a small coalition of Republicans, including Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents Uvalde, where a gunman last month killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school.
Soon after the massacre in Texas, bipartisan Senate negotiators began talks to hammer out a deal in response to the latest spate of mass shootings. They released a framework of the proposal earlier this month, and unveiled the legislation Tuesday.