MO, KS lawmakers react after Senate, House send gun bill to President Biden

Election 2018 Battle For Congress
Posted at 1:15 PM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-25 16:10:54-04

KANAS CITY, Mo. — The House of Representatives approved a firearm and mental health bill hatched in the Senate intended to reduce the growing number of mass shootings in the country.

The bill passed the House with mainly Democratic support. The bill passed by a 234-193 margin with 14 Republicans joining all 220 Democrats in passage.

Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, "proudly" voted to pass the legislation with hopes it will "protect Kansas children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across the country."

"No family should ever have to endure the heartbreak and horror of gun violence in the lives," Davids said in a statement. "This bipartisan bill is a historic step toward curbing the epidemic of gun violence in this country and it will, quite simply, save lives. Gun violence has become the number one killer of children in America: more than car accidents or cancer. These new provisions attack that statistic head-on by giving both our law enforcement and youth needed tools to prevent future gun violence."

But fellow Kansas Rep. Jake LaTurner, a Republican, chose to vote "no."

"I was elected to protect and defend the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Kansans," LaTurner said in a statement. "The 'Safer Communities Act' clearly infringes on our Second Amendment right to bear arms and right to due process. This bill funds 'red-flag' laws with taxpayer dollars, needlessly singles out Americans under 21 and criminalizes routine firearm transactions."

Missouri 6th District Republican Rep. Sam Graves voted against the bill, citing he does not support red flag laws.

"I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. I don't support unconstitutional 'red flag' laws," Graves said in a statement. "The federal government shouldn't be paying states to infringe on the rights of law-abiding Americans. We can — and must — secure our schools without trampling all over the Second Amendment."

Another "no" vote from Missouri came via Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

“Jeopardizing our Second Amendment and violating law-abiding gun owners’ right to self-defense is the wrong approach to ending gun violence," Hartzler said in a statement. "While crime is skyrocketing across America, Washington Democrats would rather go after those who follow the law than those who break it."

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, voted in favor of the bill as a way to "show the public that we can take action to protect our communities and save lives."

“While I am not pollyannaish enough to believe that this legislation will end our nation’s addiction to weapons of war, it is the first gun safety legislation passed by Congress in decades—and it will unquestionably save lives in the future," Cleaver said in a statement. "As we celebrate this victory today, we must continue to push for common sense gun safety laws that will prevent the possibility of senseless and heartbreaking shootings tomorrow."

Of the four U.S. Senators in Kansas and Missouri, three — Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas); Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas); and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) — voted against the bill late Thursday night. Outgoing Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) was one of several Republicans to support the measure.

"While it isn't everything we would have liked to see in legislation, it takes us down the road, the path to more safety, saving lives. Let us not judge the legislation for what it does not do, but respect it for what it does," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The Senate approved the bill late Thursday by a 65-34 margin. While the bill had the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 14 other GOP members, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy encouraged House Republicans to vote against it.

The bill had opposition from the National Rifle Association.

The legislation will include the following:

  • Funds for states to implement red flag laws
  • Family mental health spending
  • Getting rid of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by including those convicted of domestic abuse in background checks
  • Funding for school-based mental health programs
  • Funding for school safety resources
  • Clarifying the language of a federally licensed firearm dealer
  • Investments in telehealth programs
  • Implementing a waiting period on gun purchases for those under age 21
  • Penalties for straw purchases of firearms

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, spent the last week finalizing details on the bill. One concern he noted was on the boyfriend loophole and clarifying the language on domestic relationships.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, explained why he was among Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the bill.

"This legislation accomplishes these goals without infringing upon a law-abiding citizen's second amendment right," he said. "And let me repeat that because there's been confusion in speeches from this floor, there's been internet exploding, there's rumors, afloat that somehow this infringes upon the law-abiding citizen's right to keep and bear arms. That is absolutely false. And if anyone says, so they are misleading, the American people."