House passes gun safety package, Biden expected to sign quickly

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath said the gun safety bill passed by Congress on Friday falls short of what she and other gun control activists want. But it’s a step in the right direction and she means to celebrate, she said.

“For the first time in almost 30 years, for the first time since my son Jordan was born, this body has passed meaningful reforms — life-saving reforms — for our existing gun laws,” McBath said of Congress. “Legislation that will keep our families alive, that will keep our children alive. And that means something to this body. That means something for America. That means something for our children. This gives us hope.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said McBath, whose teenage son was murdered in 2012, urged fellow Democrats to support the measure even though it didn’t include language that many had hoped, such as an assault weapon ban or raising the minimum age to purchase assault rifles from 18 to 21.

But Democrats and many Republicans said they needed to do something in response to high-profile mass shootings in recent weeks, including the racially motivated targeting of a grocery store in Buffalo that left 10 dead and the attack at Uvalde elementary school that killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers.

The House went on to pass the legislation 234-193, with 14 Republicans joining Democrats in the majority. Georgia’s delegation split along party lines with all six Democrats in favor and all eight Republicans opposed.

The Senate signed off on the bill late Thursday, meaning the measure is now headed to President Joe Biden for his signature. Fifteen Republicans joined all 50 Senate Democrats in that vote, including Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

“After over 20 years of inaction in Congress, I’m proud we finally came together and took action to pass common-sense policies supported by a majority of Georgians and Americans,” Warnock said in a statement after the vote.

The legislation will expand background checks for people ages 18-21 and give the government more time to conduct them; strengthen penalties for gun trafficking; prohibit people convicted of domestic violence from purchasing guns; provide money for mental health and school safety; and create incentives for states like Georgia to implement “red flag” laws to take guns away from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

The bill was negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators, but the majority of Republicans still regarded it as an infringement of the Second Amendment and voted against it. U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta, said that he could not support the legislation because of certain provisions limiting access to firearms, like the “red flag” measure.

“I have long supported proactive measures to fund school security and mental health services, but combining these common-sense measures with policies that would disarm law-abiding Americans makes this package unacceptable,” he said. “This bill would criminalize routine firearm transactions and encourage states to violate the due process rights of law-abiding citizens.”


HOW THEY VOTED ON S. 2938, bipartisan gun safety legislation

“Yes”

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta

“No”

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton