Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Rand Paul were among the majority of Republicans who voted against the first gun legislation to pass the Senate in more than two decades, despite the fact that 15 Republicans – including the Senate Minority Leader , Mitch McConnell – voted to approve 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 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 at Robb Elementary School. In the days after the shooting, McConnell accused Texas’s Cornyn of negotiating the legislation, with Tillis joining later.
The legislation creates an enhanced review process for persons under the age of 21 looking to purchase a firearm to undergo an enhanced review of their mental health and juvenile records. It also establishes a program for states to enact extreme hazard protection laws – also called “red flag laws” – that prevent people who may pose a risk to themselves or others from obtaining a gun.
Additionally, people who commit “straw shopping” – where someone who can pass a background check buys a gun for someone who cannot – can be fined, get up to 15 years in prison, or both. This can be increased 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 had committed 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 that she would act quickly to pass the legislation.