CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Less than 24 hours after the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan gun violence bill, the House of Representatives approved the same legislation, sending the measure to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.
The chamber on Friday voted 234-193, in which the tally was mostly divided by party affiliation; 14 Republicans supported the measure, while Democrats were united in backing the bill.
West Virginia’s delegates — Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller — voted against the legislation.
“Any effort to prevent mass violence or stop criminals from obtaining firearms must include explicit guidelines to ensure the Constitutional rights of innocent citizens are protected,” Miller said. “I voted against the Senate’s gun legislation because it lacks the necessary clarity that this issue demands. Without proper guardrails, the bill is a blank check for states to enact anti-gun laws with no oversight.”
Mooney described the legislation as “rushed.”
“The Second Amendment is clear,” he said. “I will not support gun laws that chip away at my constituents’ freedoms and funds the unconstitutional seizure of guns.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides states with $750 million to implement “red flag” laws, in which a court would determine whether an individual can access firearms if they pose a danger to themselves or other people. States could also use funds for other purposes, such as extreme risk protection orders and establishing mental health courts.
The measure also expands background checks for people between the ages of 18 and 21 years old. The review process will involve examining juvenile and mental health records. Authorities will have three business days to conduct an initial search with the option to carry the review to 10 days.
The bill also has language clarifying which sellers need to conduct background checks.
The measure additionally prohibits people from having a gun if convicted of domestic violence against current or former dating partners, closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” There is a process of being removed from the list, but a person must first reach five years from completing their sentence. The legislation also directs $11 billion for mental health services, as well as investments in school safety and violence prevention efforts.
Miller said in a statement she supports efforts to promote firearm safety; she helped introduce a measure creating a tax deduction for gun training and concealed carry courses.
“These are all commonsense ways to prevent more gruesome tragedies from happening, while also protecting the Second Amendment,” she said.
U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted for the bill on Thursday. Capito was one of 15 Senate Republicans who supported the legislation.
The president plans to sign the legislation. Biden administration officials have described the measure as “one of the most significant steps Congress has taken to reduce gun violence in decades.”