Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Rand Paul were among the majority of Republicans who voted against the first piece of gun legislation to pass the Senate in more than two decades, despite the fact that 15 Republicans–including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell–voted to pass it.
In total, 33 Republicans voted against the legislation despite the fact that Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina negotiated on the legislation with Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota did not vote.
The legislation comes a month after a white supremacist allegedly opened fire and killed 10 people and less than a month after a gunman opened fire and killed 19 children and two adults in Robb Elementary School. In the days after the shooting, Mr McConnell charged Mr Cornyn of Texas with negotiating the legislation, with Mr Tillis joining afterward.
The legislation creates an enhanced reviewing process for people younger than 21 who seek to buy a firearm to undergo an enhanced review of their juvenile and mental health records. It also sets up a programme for states to adopt extreme risk protection order laws–also called “red flag laws”–which prevent people who might pose a risk to themselves or others from obtaining a weapon.
In addition, people who commit “straw purchases”–where someone who can pass a background check buys a weapon for someone who could not–could either be fined, face up to 15 years in prison or both. That could be raised to 25 years if the weapon is used in an act of terrorism or drug trafficking.
The bill also closes the “boyfriend loophole”–which allowed people who commited domestic abuse against a romantic partner but did not live with, marry or have a child with their partner to obtain a firearm.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already indicated there would move swiftly to pass the legislation.