President Joe Biden on Saturday signed into law the biggest gun control measure introduced in the United States in decades after the bipartisan bill cleared both houses of Congress.
“I was there 30 years ago, the last time this nation passed meaningful gun safety laws and I’m here today for the most significant law to be passed since then,” Biden said at a June 25 press conference at the White House.
The legislation, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed the House on Friday in a 234–193 vote following Senate approval Thursday.
Key provisions of the bill include expanding federal background checks for people between 18 to 21, incentives for states to adopt so-called red flag laws, expanding access to mental health programs, and enhancing school security in a bid to prevent mass shootings.
“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.
The legislation comes on the heels of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, which killed 10 people, and Uvalde, Texas, which killed 21 people, including 19 children. Both gunmen were 18 years old.
“At a time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential,” the president said.
Both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) support the bill.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) reacted to Biden’s signing of the bill in a post on Twitter: “Make no mistake, behind the façade and the contrived talking points of safety, school security, and mental health, THIS IS A GUN CONTROL BILL.”
The NRA earlier came out in opposition to the measure, arguing that it “does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners.”
Gun Owners of America, another gun lobby, said in a statement on Twitter that it “will challenge these unconstitutional laws in court to defend the rights of all Americans.”
The bill would provide around $15 billion over the next five years toward expanding access to mental health programs and enhancing school security in a bid to prevent future mass shootings.