Moments before he signed a bipartisan gun-control bill into law, President Biden recounted meeting family members of gun violence victims in Uvalde, Tex., Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn., and dozens of mourning communities in between.
The gun-control act is the most significant law of its kind in the last three decades, although Biden has conceded it doesn’t do everything that he wants — or everything that advocates have asked for.
The legislation was the result of negotiations by a handful of Republican and Democratic senators, led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), in the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo.
In addition to providing funding for mental health services and school security initiatives, the legislation expands criminal background checks for some gun buyers, bars a larger group of domestic-violence offenders from purchasing firearms, and funds programs that would allow authorities to seize guns from troubled individuals.
The bill passed the House overwhelmingly along party lines, 234 to 193, with no Democratic defections. Fourteen Republicans voted in favor, including Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Tex.), who represents Uvalde, the city that is now home to the second-largest mass school shooting in U.S. history.
The movement on gun control happens at a tumultuous moment in Washington. The House passed the legislation on the same day that the Supreme Court announced it would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. Celebrations in the Capitol over breaking a 30-year logjam on gun control happened at the same time that virulent protests were going on a short walk away in front of the nation’s highest court.
“Jill and I know how painful and devastating the decision is for so many American, and I mean so many Americans,” Biden said.
He said his administration was now focused on making sure states didn’t break other laws as they sought to restrict access to abortion. “We’re going to take actions to protect women’s rights and reproductive health,” he said.