Just 14 House Republicans joined every Democratic member present in voting for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
The House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on Friday, 234 to 193, one day after the Senate approved it. But 193 House Republicans sided with the National Rifle Association and opposed the compromise gun violence package.
The vast majority of House Republicans opposed the legislation after its leaders came out against it and whipped their rank-and-file members to vote no. Just 14 Republicans joined every Democratic member present in voting yes.
In a Facebook post, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote on Thursday that "provisions in it would place additional unnecessary impediments and burdens on a law-abiding citizen's right to own a firearm."
"We must not have knee-jerk reactions in how the federal government approaches red flag laws, where Congress strong-arms states into passing laws that may violate the Second Amendment and deprive citizens of their right to due process," he added.
In the wake of numerous deadly mass shootings across the country — including the May massacre in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead — a bipartisan group of senators negotiated and agreed on the bill.
The Senate passed it 65-33 on Thursday night. Fifteen Senate Republicans eventually joined with every member of the Democratic majority to vote for the bill, but only after two-thirds of the Senate Republican caucus attempted to block debate on the package. Several GOP senators made comments echoing the NRA's warnings that it would begin a slippery slope and undermine gun rights.
The legislation does not include most of the steps President Joe Biden had proposed to address gun violence, such as universal background checks for all gun sales, a prohibition on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, and a national extreme risk protection order, otherwise known as a "red flag" law.
The compromise bill takes some steps to disarm convicted domestic abusers, helps fund states' implementation of their own red flag laws, and enhances background checks for people under age 21.
The bill now goes to Biden, who is expected to sign it quickly. The White House released a statement of administration policy on Thursday indicating its strong support for the package, praising the bill as "meaningful action to save lives" and "one of the most significant steps Congress has taken to reduce gun violence in decades."
After the Senate vote, Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, lauded the bill's passage as "a clear signal that the old politics around gun safety are over. Gun violence prevention is not the third rail of American politics, but an issue that bridges political affiliation and is supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans."
A late May Politico/Morning Consult poll taken before the Uvalde shooting found 59% of American voters deemed it important that elected officials enact stricter gun laws.
The House vote comes one day after the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority blocked a New York state law limiting the concealed carry of handguns. Justice Clarence Thomas' 6-3 majority opinion indicated that the high court will now presume most gun safety laws to be unconstitutional.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.