President Joe Biden on Saturday morning signed into law a bipartisan gun control bill that swiftly passed Congress this week, marking the most significant action the federal government has taken on gun control in decades.
Biden gave a brief speech before signing the bill, listing the measures the bill takes and saying it is a “monumental day” for America and “lives will be saved.”
The president’s signature clears the way for new federal grants to encourage states to enact red-flag laws, enhances background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21 and closes the so-called “boyfriend” loophole, which allowed non-spousal domestic abusers to own guns.
The bill also creates a new statute making gun trafficking a federal crime and includes around $11 billion to improve mental health programs, among other provisions.
“While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives,” Biden said.
Many Democrats have long pushed for measures like raising the age to buy assault weapons from 18 to 21 and banning high-capacity magazines, but those were not included in the bill.
The House passed the bill in a 234-193 vote Friday afternoon, largely along party lines, after the Senate approved the legislation Thursday night. The 65-33 vote in the Senate was much more bipartisan, with nearly a third of Republican senators joining all of their Democratic colleagues to support the bill. Biden’s signature comes one month and one day after a massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, prompted nationwide calls for gun reform. A small group of senators began meeting shortly after to discuss bipartisan legislation, led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on the Democratic side and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on the Republican side. They unveiled the text of the bill on Tuesday.