DENVER – U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet told his Senate colleagues Thursday he sees no reason for any of them to vote against the bipartisan gun restriction and mental health bill that appears poised to pass by the end of this week after clearing a procedural hurdle on Thursday morning.
Fifteen Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in the Senate Thursday to advance the measure to the final vote, which has to happen under Senate rules by Friday evening but which could happen sooner if all senators agree.
A bipartisan group of senators have spent the weeks since the Uvalde, Texas, shooting working on a measure that can get the support of enough Republicans to pass the Senate – where most gun-related bills have died over the past several years.
The bill the Senate is considering would push funding to states to put into place crisis intervention programs, red flag laws, and incentivize them to put juvenile records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System so background checks would flag concerns for adults between ages 18 and 21 who are purchasing guns.
The bill would also close the “boyfriend loophole” in domestic violence laws, make more firearm sellers register as Federal Licensed Firearm Dealers, boost funding for school security and mental health programs and put in place penalties for straw purchasers of weapons who buy the for other people.
“I don’t know how anyone on this floor could object to any of those ideas,” Bennet said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, adding that Colorado has already passed some of the laws the Senate is now considering without infringing on the Second Amendment.
“Finally, for the first time in a decade, we have the chance to make progress,” he said. “We need to show [Americans] when we have this opportunity to demonstrate we’re not going to fail again and that we can succeed in passing this bipartisan bill, and after all these years can mee the American people’s reasonable expectation to begin to protect our communities against gun violence that happens in the United States of America and only in the United States of America.”
Colorado’s other U.S. Senator, Sen. John Hickenlooper, had similar sentiments when he spoke on the floor Thursday, noting how Coloradans and the majority of Americans support many of the pieces included in the measure.
“Guns can be a divisive issue to say the least, but we don’t accept that there’s no room to get things done. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act proves that,” he said. “For the first time in three decades, Congress is poised to pass gun legislation that will make Americans safer. And it’s based on the very simple principle: we all agree we should keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Bennet said while he thinks what is in the bill is “very, very modest,” he feels it contains measures that are both important and overdue. He said he thinks it’s important at the moment to pass universal background checks, limit magazine capacities and lift the age to 21 to purchase semi-automatic weapons as well, but said it was important to have bipartisan movement on a bill that at least addresses some of what the majority Americans are asking for.
“But today is a day, I think, to feel good about a bipartisan victory here, and it shows that the gun lobby can’t win every single time,” Bennet said.
He said he did not want to speculate on how many Republicans might vote for the measure, but said he believes it will get the necessary votes to pass the Senate. The measure would need a simple majority to pass the House should it clear the upper chamber.
“You know, if we could get 15 to 20 Republican votes, that would be great,” Bennet said. “And we’ll see.”