OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Fourteen Republican senators joined their Democrat colleagues in voting for new legislation on gun control.
In a vote of 64 – 34 on Thursday, the Senate voted to advance an 80-page gun safety bill after the mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, Texas.
The agreement is said to be centered around increased scrutiny for gun purchasers younger than 21, increased funding for red flag laws, mental health, and school security.
The 14 Republicans who voted to advance the bill included its cosponsor Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, The Washington Times reported.
“I support the bill text that Senator Cornyn and our colleagues have produced. For years, the far left falsely claimed that Congress could only address the terrible issue of mass murders by trampling on law-abiding Americans’ constitutional rights. This bill proves that false. Our colleagues have put together a commonsense package of popular steps that will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Sen. McConnell said.
“The tragedies that have impacted far too many of our communities deserve all of our attention,” Sen. Capito said. “That’s why I have encouraged bipartisan discussions. … My vote this evening is a vote to continue this critically important debate because it’s a debate worth having.”
But the NRA warned that the legislation, as it is written, could be abused.
“The NRA will support legislation that improves school security, promotes mental health services, and helps reduce violent crime. However, we will oppose this gun control legislation because it falls short at every level. It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners,” it said.
“This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians. This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overbroad provisions – inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms,” the group said.
“Decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Heller and McDonald cases make clear that the Second Amendment is an individual constitutional freedom. We will always fight for those freedoms – and the fundamental values we have defended for over 150 years,” it said.
It was also opposed by 34 Republican Senators including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.
“Here we are voting to move on a bill negotiated entirely behind closed doors, released only an hour ago, that no one has had time to fully read, that ignores the national crime wave and chips away at the fundamental rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
On Sunday Republican Utah Sen. Mike Less said on “Fox News Sunday” that there was no deal and expressed his opposition to voting on emotions.
“The issue that we have here is we don’t have a bill. That’s why I was surprised when last week, about a week ago, when you have, this gang of 20 emerged saying we have a deal. We started expecting to see a bill. Now, I personally refuse to indicate whether I — or how I will vote on a bill until after I’ve seen the text because there are a lot of things that can go wrong in legislation. I keep asking to see text, and it became apparent they didn’t have a bill. In fact, they don’t have a deal at all. What they had was agreement on a series of very broad promises,” he said.
“Now, I know there’s some bill text that’s probably been written, but on the most contentious controversial, potentially impactful provisions, there is no language,” he said. “Without that language, you can’t ascertain whether it’s OK. But, Shannon, the important thing here is you have to be careful whenever something like this happens, that we not legislate under the heat of the moment — heat of the moment, under great emotion without looking at that text and figuring out what we’re doing. We need to be careful that we do not punish law-abiding Americans for the wrongs carried out by the criminally minded and the insane.