US President Joe Biden on Saturday, June 25, signed into law the most significant gun control bill in nearly 30 years less than 24 hours after it passed through Congress.
The Democrat signed the bipartisan gun safety bill, which was drafted in the wake of the deadly mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., the day after it cleared the House in a 234-193 vote. Fourteen Republicans voted with Democrats in supporting the measure.
“Time is of the essence. Lives will be saved,” Biden said, adding that when he returns from a trip to Europe, he will host the lawmakers who worked on the legislation and family members of gun violence victims at the White House.
The House took up the bill hours after the Senate approved it in a 65-33 vote on Thursday night. Fifteen Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), joined all Democrats in supporting the measure in the upper chamber.
“Today, we say more than enough. We said more than enough. It’s time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing some consequential,” he said, joined at the podium by first lady Jill Biden. “I know there’s much more work to do. I’m never going to give up.”
Biden, who said today is a “monumental day,” thanked the leaders in Congress who got the bill across the finish line and thanked the families of victims, who the president and the first lady have met with.
“I’ve been at this work for a long, long time and I know how hard it is and I know what is takes to get it done,” he said.
The bill, known as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, enhances background checks for gun purchasers between the age of 18 and 21, makes obtaining firearms through straw purchases or trafficking a federal offense and clarifies the definition of a federally licensed firearm dealer.
It allocates $750 million to help states administer red flag laws, which seek to keep guns away from people deemed a threat to themselves or others, and other intervention programs, and it includes funding for mental health treatment.
“While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives,” he said.
The president’s bill signing comes just an hour before he is set to leave the White House for the Group of Seven summit in Germany.
Biden said that the message to him from victims’ families is always “do something,” mentioning mass shootings from El Paso, Las Vegas, Parkland, Charleston, and others, and those that happen on the streets that people don’t hear about.
“For God’s sake, just do something. Well today, we did,” he said.