Congress passes historic gun violence bill, awaits Biden’s signature

Legislation would toughen background checks, enable red flag laws, fund mental health, school safety programs

WASHINGTON – On Friday, Congress passed a new gun safety bill with bipartisan support.

It’s the most significant federal gun control legislation in nearly three decades.

The bill sets aside $13 billion to:

  • Toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers
  • Help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people deemed a danger to themselves or others
  • Close the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping guns away from non-spouse dating partners convicted of abuse
  • Fund local programs for school safety, mental health, and violence prevention

This decision came after a wave of deadly mass shootings.

“In terms of Congress working together across party lines,” said Karen Hult, Virginia Tech Professor of Political Science. “That was historic. No doubt about that.”

Hurt added that the implications in Virginia are uncertain.

“Whether this government, governor, and this legislature will pursue [enhanced gun restrictions] is another question,” said Hult.

Just a day earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, striking down a New York law that required someone seeking a concealed carry permit to show they had a special need to do so.

States can still impose restrictions on carrying guns, which can include background and mental health checks.

Hult said this ruling raises some questions.

“It’s going to raise a series of issues in, for example, places like schools, universities, and things of that sort,” said Hult.

As for the gun violence bill, President Joe Biden has said he will pass the legislation, which is now waiting for his signature.

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