The legislation is intended to respond to recent mass shootings, including the killing of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
Cornyn worked with senators such as Chris Murphy (D-CT), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to advance the legislation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted against the bill.
The U.S. Senate passed S. 2938 by a vote of 65 to 33 and the bill passed the U.S. House by a vote of 234 to 193.
The bill would close what is often called the “boyfriend loophole,” in the context of temporarily revoking the legal right to purchase a weapon for those convicted of domestic violence offenses. Currently law does not cover intimate relationships that do not involve children, marriage, or cohabitation.
The legislation also adds measures to strengthen background checks for those under 21 seeking to buy a gun.
Opponents of the bill, such as Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX-08), fear that the reforms could provide opportunities to abuse the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
In a statement after the bill’s passage, Brady commented that he supports the mental health funding and criminal sanctions against those who illegally purchase a gun for someone else. However, he expressed apprehension about red flag laws.
“Regrettably, I can’t support provisions in this bill that prove unconstitutional and ineffective like incentivizing more red flag laws,” Brady said. “Out of the eight deadliest cities in America, seven are located in ‘model gun control’ states — many with red flags laws that fail to reduce violence or protect due process for individuals.”
On social media, Cornyn responded to many of the arguments against his bill, including the concerns about red flag laws.
“Our bill DOES NOT create a national red flag law, DOES NOT require or incentivize states to adopt red flag laws & no state is penalized for not passing one,” he tweeted.
Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-TX-23), whose district includes Uvalde, was the only Republican from Texas who voted for the bill. He joined only 13 other Republican members of Congress who voted for the legislation.
Cornyn faced an angry reaction from delegates at the Republican Party of Texas convention in Houston last week, partially due to his support for the bill.
As Congress worked on the bill, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law restricting concealed carry and decided that individuals have a constitutional right to bear weapons in public.
The White House put out a statement indicating that the bill does not go as far as President Biden hoped, though his administration does support it.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."