Every Democrat and 14 Republicans in the Senate voted to consider bipartisan compromise gun safety legislation.
The Senate voted on Tuesday 64-34 to begin debating a bipartisan gun safety bill. But more than two-thirds of the Republican caucus voted against even considering the compromise package.
The vote on the motion to proceed with the bill, to be attached in the form of amendments to a separate bill already passed in the House because spending bills cannot originate in the Senate, received the support of every Democrat and 14 Republicans, clearing the needed 60-vote threshold to move the bill forward.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) missed the vote but indicated his support for the bill. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) was also absent, after saying last week, "I think we're more interested in the red wave than we are in red flags, quite honestly, as Republicans and we have a pretty good opportunity to do that," apparently more interested in Republican election prospects than in the so-called "red flag" extreme risk protection orders that allow the temporary removal of weapons from people adjudicated to be an imminent threat to themselves or others.
The compromise Bipartisan Safer Communities Act does not include some of the gun violence reduction proposals President Joe Biden has requested. Missing are universal background checks for gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a national red flag law.
But it does take steps to remove weapons from convicted domestic abusers, who research shows are five times more likely to kill their victims when they have access to a firearm; provide $750 million to help states implement their own extreme risk protection order legislation; enhance background checks for would-be gun purchasers younger than 21; and expand the definition of who must register as a gun dealer.
Even this compromise was too much for the majority of Senate Republicans, who instead opted to toe the National Rifle Association's line and parrot its unfounded slippery-slope rhetoric insisting that the ultimate goal of gun safety laws is to strip all gun owners of their weapons.
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted, "Tonight, I opposed the gun control legislation — released only an hour before the vote — that would infringe on law-abiding Americans' Second Amendment rights"
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton predicted: "This bill won't stop the violent shootings by deranged criminals. But it will restrict the freedoms of law-abiding Americans and put too much power in the hands of politicians and political officials."
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley claimed: "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 & chips away instead at the fundamental rights of law abiding citizens. NO."
David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and a co-founder of March For Our Lives, tweeted support for the legislation, writing on Tuesday, "It's not enough, but it's lifesaving and it's just the start. Let's get the bill passed."
A final Senate vote on the package is expected this week.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.