US gun control: Bill clears first hurdle in US Senate
The US Senate has taken a first step towards passing what has been called the most significant new gun controls in a generation.
Senators voted to speed up the passage of the bipartisan bill, meaning it could be signed into law next week.
Although significant, the proposals fall far short of what many Democrats and activists have called for in the wake of a spate of mass shootings.
The measures include tougher background checks for buyers younger than 21.
The bill calls for funding to encourage states to implement “red flag” laws to remove firearms from people considered a threat. The act also includes $15bn (£12.2bn) in federal funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades.
And it closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by blocking gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners.
It is the first time in decades that proposed gun safety legislation has received this level of support from both Republican and Democratic party senators.
Tuesday evening’s Senate vote – which was procedural – passed 64 to 34 in less than two hours after the final text was circulated.
Some 14 Republicans voted to advance the bill, suggesting the legislation could have enough support to clear the Senate in full.
It will also need to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives before making its way to President Joe Biden’s desk.