A bill to strengthen the national background check system for gun purchases has reached a significant milestone. The bill garnered enough support to break a filibuster and pass the Senate.
On Friday, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn’s office announced that the legislation had attracted six additional co-sponsors, which brought the total number of supporters up to 62. This boost in support places the bill over the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster and enough support to be possibly be passed by the Senate.
The six senators to formally sign onto the Fix NICS (National Instant Background Check System) Act were Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Kristen Gillibrand (D-New York), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), and John Boozman (R-Arkansas).
The bill seeks to reinforce existing laws by making authorities report criminal records to the system and penalizing those agents who do not comply.
On Thursday, Cornyn had hinted that he was close to securing the 60 votes needed for the bill, which he introduced late last year with Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).
“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that the United States Senate has done nothing, nothing, to prevent [mass shootings] from happening in the future. We’re close to 60 bipartisan co-sponsors,” he said at the Senate floor.
While the bill has gathered the 60 votes, it remains unclear when, or if, the bill will be brought to a vote.
Unfortunately, the background check legislation had not appeared on a scheduling update provided by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), which outlined what the chamber would be addressing before a recess on March 23rd.
The gun control debate was reignited after the shooting last month at a Parkland, Florida, high school. The shooting claimed the lives of 17 students and faculty members.
While the recent mass shootings have caused a public demand for gun control policy, establishing such policies has proven to be difficult. The shootings occurred with gunmen who were able to purchase firearms despite past charges or warnings about their behavior, but some politicians continue to push back on new gun regulation legislation.
Republicans have suggested that they want to pass the Fix NICS Act with a unanimous vote, which would allow the bill to bypass the formal vote, but some GOP senators say they have “due process” concerns.
Democrats, while supportive of the legislation, have also said they believe it is too narrow of a response.
The bill is among many of the suggestions that have resurfaced in the past weeks. Various other proposed methods of gun regulation have been shot down.
H/T: The Hill