Democrats have warned that Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling could have dire consequences for gun safety across the country.
“The Supreme Court misjudged,” Senator Chris Murphy, the Democratic chief negotiator on the Gun Safety Act, said in an interview.
“I am very concerned about the court’s willingness to wrest the ability to protect our voters from elected bodies, and that has real serious implications for the safety of our country,” said Murphy, whose home is Connecticut, where 26 people were killed. In 2012 an elementary school shooting.
Conservatives defend a broad reading of the Second Amendment, which they say limits most of the new restrictions on gun purchases.
The Senate’s 80-page Safer Communities Act will encourage states to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed dangerous and tighten background checks for potential gun buyers convicted of domestic violence or major crimes as juveniles.
More than 20,800 people were killed in gun violence in the United States in 2022, including homicide and suicide, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group.
The Supreme Court ruling, written by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, declared that the Constitution protects “the individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”
“This is a massive victory for NRA members and gun owners across the country,” Jason Oymet, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.
“This ruling opens the door to properly changing the law in the remaining seven states that still do not recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection.”
In the Senate, Republican supporters of the new gun safety bill said the measure does not undermine the rights of law-abiding gun owners, who are among their most ardent voters.
“The order does not prejudice the rights of the vast majority of American gun owners, who are law-abiding citizens of sound mind,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who supports the legislation.
The bill provides funding to help states adopt “red flag” laws to keep firearms out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others. It would also fund alternative intervention measures in the state where it opposes red flag laws and provides for enhanced school security.
It closes the “friend loop” by preventing gun purchases from those convicted of intimate partner abuse in dating relationships, although if they have no further convictions or penalties, they will be allowed to buy again.
It also allows states to add criminal juvenile records and mental health records to national background check databases.
Senator John Cornyn, the bill’s top Republican negotiator, was booed last week when he discussed its contents during a speech to a Republican convention in his home state of Texas.