After the recent Uvalde and Buffalo massacres, the US Senate approved with a first procedural vote, with 64 yes and 34 no, the bipartisan bill to impose stricter guidelines on firearms. The breakthrough came more than a week after 20 senators, 10 from each party, signed on to a framework agreement. The authors of the initiative hope for final approval by Saturday, to then forward the provision to the Chamber.

If approved, it would be the first major reform on the issue since 1994 that will toughen federal gun laws and provide billions of dollars in new money to prevent future mass shootings. The bill would include strengthened background checks on under-21 gun buyers, funds for mental health and school safety, incentives for states adopting “red-flag laws”, the US gun control laws that permit police, and, in some states, family members, coworkers, and others, to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who they believe may present a danger to others or themselves. In this optic, weapons would then be prohibited for partners involved in domestic abuse for example.

The bill also strengthens penalties for circumventing licensing requirements or making illegal purchases as a figurehead by buying and then selling weapons to people who are prohibited from purchasing them. “This bipartisan gun-safety legislation is progress and will save lives. While it is not everything we want, this legislation is urgently-needed”, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. The measure could be approved by Congress by 4 July, before the summer break.

“This is a breakthrough and, more importantly, it’s a bipartisan breakthrough,” Senator Chris Murphy added. “This bill will be too little for many; it’ll be too much for others. But it isn’t a box-checking exercise. This bill is not window dressing. This bill is going to save lives. This bill is going to save thousands of lives. It is going to be something that every single member of this Senate who votes for it can be proud of.”

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