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President Biden on Saturday signed the most significant gun control bill in nearly 30 years less than 24 hours after it passed through the Congress with unusual haste.
“Time is of the essence. Lives will be saved,” Biden said in an address to the nation. “From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, El Paso, Atlanta, Buffalo, Uvalde and for the shootings that happen every day in the streets. How many times have you heard that, ‘Just do something, for God’s sake just do something?’
“Today, we did.”
The House passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Friday by a 234-193 vote with 14 Republicans crossing party lines just one day after the Senate passed the legislation in a 65-33 vote Thursday night.
The new law is an attempt to prevent mass shootings that have plagued the U.S. for years.
Two mass shootings that occurred within a week in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, left dozens dead last month.
The Senate then launched negotiations between 10 Senate Republicans and 10 Senate Democrats to pass gun control reform and address gun violence across the U.S.
Though the push was largely opposed by Republicans in the House, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell championed the legislation and said it “will help make these horrifying incidents less likely while fully upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
The newest law will incentivize states to pass red flag laws and expand background checks for 18- to 21-year-olds.
The Uvalde shooting, which killed 19 children and two teachers, and the Buffalo shooting, which has been deemed a hate crime that left 10 dead and three wounded, were both carried out by 18-year-old men.
Lawmakers have encouraged states to release previously sealed juvenile records, which could potentially add several days to the waiting period before a gun purchase can be completed.
But even with the new gun control measures, it remains unclear if the two most recent mass shootings could have been prevented by the newest stipulations.
Both 18-year-old men legally purchased AR-15-style rifles and neither was flagged by existing red flag laws.
The newest provision calling on states to release juvenile records may have helped to flag Payton Gendron, the Buffalo shooter who was evaluated for mental health concerns in 2021 but evaded any red flags.
The bill also provides funding for youth mental health programs.
“This bill doesn’t do everything I want. It does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives,” Biden said. “I know there’s much more work to do. And I’m never going to give up.
“But this is a monumental day.”