US Senate passes landmark gun control bill

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The US senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan gun violence bill, in the most far-reaching response by Congress in decades to curb mass shootings.

After years of effort, 15 Republicans joined Democrats to back the legislation by 65-33 votes. The measure comes weeks after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, killed more than 30 people, including 19 children.

The $13bn (£10bn) measure includes tougher background checks for the young gun buyers and programs for school safety, mental health and violence prevention. It also calls for states to adopt red-flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged dangerous.

The bill closes the “boyfriend loophole” by denying gun purchases to those convicted of abusing intimate partners in dating relationships.

“Families in Uvalde and Buffalo, and too many tragic shootings before, have demanded action. And tonight, we acted,” Mr Biden said after the passage.

He said the House should send it to him quickly, adding, “Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it.”

The bill will now be sent to the House where speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to take it up swiftly for clearance. Once passed by the House, president Joe Biden will sign the bill into law.

Although the legislation is seen as the right direction to prevent more firearm-related violence, the bill does not include more sweeping gun control measures such as a ban on assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines.

“This is not a cure-all for the all the ways gun violence affects our nation,” said senate majority leader Chuck Schumer.

“But it is a long-overdue step in the right direction.”

Earlier in the day, a ruling by the 6-3 conservative-majority Supreme Court struck down New York state's limits on carrying concealed handguns outside the home, stating that it violated the US Constitution's Second Amendment which allows a person to "keep and bear arms".

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnel said “the American people want their constitutional rights protected and their kids to be safe in school.”

He said “they want both of those things at once, and that is just what the bill before the senate will have accomplished.”

The Republican senators who voted against the bill included potential 2024 presidential contenders such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tim Scott of South Carolina. Mr Cruz argued that the bill would “disarm law-abiding citizens rather than take serious measures to protect our children.”

Over 20,800 people have died from gun violence in the US so far this year, including through homicide and suicide, according to non-profit research group Gun Violence Archive.

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