Amid raging incidents of gun violence in the US, the Senate has passed a gun control bill for the first time in 28 years, the media reported on Friday.
Late Thursday night, 15 Republicans joined Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress to approve the measure by 65 votes to 33, the BBC reported.
The bill will next have to clear the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.
The new legislation includes a series of measures, such as tougher background checks for customers younger than 21 years; $15 billion in federal funding for mental health programmes and school security upgrades; calls for funding to encourage states to implement “red flag” laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat; and closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by blocking gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners.
Thursday’s development is also of significance as Democrats and Republicans have both equally supported proposed gun control for the first time in decades, said the BBC report.
The last significant federal gun control legislation was passed in 1994, banning the manufacture for civilian use of assault rifles and large capacity magazines. But it expired a decade later.
Addressing the chamber late Thursday, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said the bill would “make Americans feel safer”, adding that “doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility as representatives of the American people here in the US Senate”.
In his address to the floor, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “This is not a cure-all for the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long overdue step in the right direction.”
However, the National Rifle Association (NRA , the country’s most powerful gun lobby group, has opposed the bill.
The passing of the bill came hours after the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law that limits gun-carrying in public.
The 6-3 ruling found that New York’s requirement for residents to prove “proper cause”, or a good reason, to carry concealed firearms in public violates the US Constitution.
An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver” if he can prove that “proper cause exists” for doing so, says the ruling.
According to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive, the US has witnessed 267 mass shootings since the start of the year, with more than 20,000 lives lost to gun violence.
Uvalde, Texas, witnessed the country’s third-deadliest school shooting on May 24 when an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers during a rampage at the Robb Elementary School.