US Senate passes first gun control bill in decades


The US Senate has passed a gun control bill – the most significant firearms legislation in nearly 30 years.

Fifteen Republicans joined Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress to approve the measure by 65 votes to 33.

It follows mass shootings last month at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and a primary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left a combined 31 people dead.

The bill will next have to clear the House of Representatives before President Biden can sign it into law.

This could happen within days.

Although significant, the proposals fall far short of what many Democrats and activists have called for.

The new legislation includes tougher background checks for buyers younger than 21 and $15bn (£12.2bn) in federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades.

It also calls for funding to encourage states to implement “red flag” laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat.

And it closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by blocking gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners.

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who co-led the negotiations, said on the chamber floor that the bill would make Americans safer.

“I don’t believe in doing nothing in the face of what we saw in Uvalde and what we’ve seen in far too many communities,” Mr Cornyn said.

“Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility as representatives of the American people here in the United States Senate.”

Thursday’s vote happened on the same day that the US Supreme Court struck down a New York law restricting gun-carrying rights, one of that court’s most important judgements on guns in over a decade.