Joe Biden, gun violence bill
US President Joe Biden | File Photo

"God willing, it's going to save lives": Joe Biden after signing gun violence bill

A month after the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, President Joe Biden on Saturday (June 25) signed a gun violence bill, marking a significant bipartisan breakthrough on one of the most controversial policy issues in Washington. This bill is designed to keep weapons away from dangerous people, said news reports.

After signing the bill, the President said in a soft voice that “God willing”, the new law is going to “save a lot of lives”. Observing that the message to them given by the families of the victims who had been shot had always been to do something. “How many times have you heard that. Just do something; for God’s sake, just do something. Well, today, we did,” said Biden.

The House gave its final approval on Friday, after it was passed in the Senate, and Biden ensured he signed on the dotted line before leaving Washington for two summits in Europe.

What the new law does

The new law amplifies background checks on young gun buyers between 18 and 21 years of age. It encourages states to develop more and better “red flag” laws that would deny guns to people who are deemed to be dangerous.

It also brings in dating partners into the list of domestic abusers who are prohibited from buying firearms, bypassing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”

Biden wanted tougher laws

Biden said he had wanted tougher laws, like an assault weapon ban. So, did the congressional Democrats who wanted not just a ban on assault-style weapons but background checks for all gun transactions.

Republicans, however, were against it saying it was an encroachment on the Second Amendment. But, a smaller group of Republicans did agree to this scaled-down gun bill, which helped to get it through the Senate. They were supportive after the recent horrific shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas and it took weeks of closed-door talks among the senators to thrash out a compromise.

It remains the biggest federal gun control bill in decades, long after the assault weapons ban expired in 1993.

“This is a monumental day”

Biden admitted that the bill doesn’t do everything he wanted but “it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives.” There’s more work to be done, he said, adding that he was never going to give up. “But this is a monumental day,” said the president. His wife, Jill, who is a teacher, was with him for the signing.

Biden plans to host an event on July 11 for lawmakers and families affected by gun violence.

This gun bill has been signed two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday striking down a New York law that prevented people from carrying concealed weapons.

The gun rights groups, meanwhile, protested the final version of the bill. According to international news reports, the National Rifle Association said “these measures were hastily jammed through with ambiguous language and overbroad definitions to appease gun control supporters in Congress.”

Biden signed the bill just before he left Washington for a summit of the Group of Seven leading economic powers – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – in Germany. He will travel later to Spain for a NATO meeting.

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